Calgary stolen bike database wasn't wheeled out due to lack of funds

Project 529 is a website and phone app which allows people to register their bike for free, then alerts others if it's stolen. Police can also search the database when they come across a suspicious person or suspected stolen bike.

Advocates want Project 529, a system police in Vancouver say has resulted in a 20% reduction in bike thefts

A database used by Vancouver police has resulted in a dramatic decrease in bike thefts, but talks to bring the system to Calgary stalled due to the cost. (CBC)

Cycling advocates are calling on the city to fund a program aimed at preventing bikes from being stolen and reuniting owners with their rides once recovered.

Project 529 is a website and phone app which allows people to register their bike for free, then alerts others if it's stolen.

Police can also search the database when they come across a suspicious person or suspected stolen bike.

It's being used in Vancouver and more than two dozen other municipalities across B.C.

Vancouver Police Const. Rob Brunt says it's had a big impact in that city.

"In our first year, we've seen a 20 per cent reduction in our bike thefts across the city," he said. "We're now coming up to a year-and-a-half and it looks like we're almost gonna be down 30 per cent, so it looks like we've saved about 2,000 bikes being stolen in the city in our first year."

Talks stalled 

Calgary police were in discussions with Project 529 last year but those talks stalled due to a lack of funding. It's estimated the project would cost less than $20,000 a year.

Local advocacy group Bike Calgary also created a task force last year to look at the issue of theft. Vice-president Darren Mazzei says given the success seen in Vancouver, they'd like the database to be used here as well.

"We were doing some research and found that bike registry systems were good tools for the police services to use to make sure people owned the bikes that they were riding, if they were stopped for whatever reason," he said. "But also, if a theft occurred, that people could get their bikes back."