Hello Wisconsin Cyclists! Meteorological spring is here, astronomical spring is here, but more importantly the snow is melting and bike shops are having their big sales! For the majority of riders who are more fair weather cyclists, it is time to lube up the chain, pump up the tires, check the brakes and get back in the saddle!
One other thing you might want to add to your spring pre-ride checklist is to register your bike on BikeIndex.org. The Wisconsin Bike Fed has been a partner with BikeIndex for several years. We have maintained a link on our website to register bikes and report stolen bikes, but now we are taking that partnership further. We are printing BikeIndex registration cards to distribute at all events we attend. We can also send bulk supplies of these cards to bike clubs and teams, bike shops and local police departments.
Like many other cities in Wisconsin, the City of Milwaukee has made huge strides in expanding the bicycling facilities. As a result, ridership is up! The bad news is, so is bike theft! Everyday, unsuspecting bike owners take their eyes off their bike for five minutes or even come back to where the locked their bike only to find their favorite ride stolen. We met with Milwaukee Police Department Lieutenant Timothy Lietzke to discuss a new way you can help your local police return thousands of recovered stolen bikes per year. He shared with us that every year Milwaukee Police, like many other departments around the state, routinely are unsuccessful in finding owners for hundreds of bikes they recover. He asked for our help in encouraging riders to not to make it too easy on the bad guys. There are four ways you can help:
1- Lock your bike properly
Bicycles that are properly locked are much less likely to get stolen. Cable locks are simple for thieves to cut, so should only be used for low security parking, like outside the coffee shop. For bikes that will be left unattended for longer periods or out of public view, be sure you are using a high security lock, such as a U-lock, chain, heavy folding lock, or a smart lock with built-in alarm, all available at any local bike store.
2- Register your bike with BikeIndex.org
When Officers find a stolen or abandoned bike, the first place they look is the Bike Index. Using their smartphones, they just look up the serial number and brand. Before BikeIndex, the only option officers had was to check if the owner registered their bike with the city. Since bike thieves seldom resell high end bikes in the same geography they stole them from, it’s no surprise the registries almost never get bikes back to owners. And there is just not enough time to “shop” stolen bike serial numbers around the many municipalities in Wisconsin. Since local police registries do not extend beyond city lines, the officers are left with little information to find the owners
The Wisconsin Bike Fed has long endorsed the free non-profit, open source national registry, Bike Index https://bikeindex.org/ as the best method for ensuring your bike is returned to you if stolen. In a matter of minutes, you can quickly create a login/password, and upload the serial numbers and pictures of your bike(s). Later, if your bike happens to take a unaccompanied trip away from you, anyone who ‘finds’ it can search on the serial number, and contact you through BikeIndex.org. There are too many good reasons to do this simple task, we encourage you to visit their blog to learn more.
3- Check the Bike Index Before you Buy a Used Bike
You may think you are buying that bike from another cyclist who is upgrading their ride, but if it’s a sweet ride that has been jacked, chances are the owner knows about Bike Index. Any bike that has been registered (before or after the theft), is searchable by serial number. Lt. Leitzke encourages owners to upload all their bikes in their possession right now. Sometimes bikes are stolen from storage or garages without the owner noticing. Before they know it, the bike has been resold to another buyer and there is no chance of recovery. For this reason, proactive registration is the best insurance.
4- File a Police Report!
If your bike does get stolen, immediately list it as such on BikeIndex.org and file a police report with your local precinct. Once you have the police report number, you can enter that report number on your BikeIndex.org listing for the police to cross-reference.
This year, the Milwaukee Police Department will be on site at Wheel and Sprocket’s Bike Expo on April 4-7th here in Milwaukee at the State Fair Expo center, to help owners register their bike with the Bike Index. The Wisconsin BIke Fed will also be at the Expo where we’ll have your Bike Index cards. Renew your membership with us at Expo and you will get a cool Bike Fed mason jar! Of course we will also have our usual Wisconsin Bike Fed merchandise on sale and free advocacy information. But feel free to stop by anyway, just to talk to about how we can make Wisconsin the best place to ride!
In the meantime, secure your ride!