(Advocate file photo.)

Free voluntary bike registration app coming to Red Deer this spring

The system has reduced thefts by as much as 55 per cent in B.C.

A free, voluntary bike registration system will be in place in Red Deer before the upcoming cycling season.

Red Deer city council unanimously approved the 529 Garage system Monday after hearing it’s made a big dent in bicycle thefts in B.C. — reducing them by as much as by 55 per cent in Whistler and 30 per cent in Vancouver.

The app-based system will allow bikes to be registered at the point of sale by stores clerks, or later by bike owners.

Photos, descriptions, as well as bicycle serial numbers, are posted online, and can be easily referenced by police officers if the bike is stolen.

Registered bikes would also sport a highly visible, hard-to-remove sticker — which council heard would warn thieves the bike’s information can be found online. The sticker would act much like a security company’s sign on a lawn, said the city’s protective services director, Paul Goranson.

City councillor and retired RCMP officer Buck Buchanan had introduced a motion last fall calling for a bike registry. He was concerned about the high number of bikes stolen, dumped and cannot be returned to their owners because the thefts are largely not reported to police.

Buchanan considers the voluntary registry a “good first start,” but questioned whether it will be as effective as having a mandatory registry. He also wondered how city officials could follow up to see whether the registry successfully reduced bike thefts in the community.

Goranson said some thefts are reported, and city administrators can find out from police whether the numbers have gone down. They will also notice if fewer bikes are left trashed around the city.

Mayor Tara Veer was pleased the bike registry is voluntary, saying she did not want to foist an onerous process on law-abiding citizens.

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