Bike thefts in Vancouver down 30% thanks to Project 529 registry, police say

Success of U.S. database is helping Vancouver become a world leader in fighting bike crime, according to VPD.

Success of database is helping city become a world leader in fighting bike crime: VPD

Across B.C., 35 municipalities and more than 100 bike shops participate in the Project 529 registry. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

Vancouver police say a bike registration pilot project has contributed to a 30 per cent drop in thefts — and is establishing the city as a world leader in fighting bike crime.

More than 70,000 local bikes have been registered to Project 529's Vancouver database since the program was implemented in the city three years ago, far surpassing the first year's target of 10,000 registrations.

VPD says the database helps them return a stolen bike to its owner almost every day.

The Portland, Ore.-based Project 529 website and phone app database holds information such as physical features and serial numbers.

The registry, which is mostly being used in the United States and B.C., contains information about more than 800,000 bikes worldwide.

Bike crime down in B.C. municipalities

Vancouver isn't the only city where the 529 database has had an impact on bike crime. Throughout the province, 35 municipalities and more than 100 bicycle shops are participating in the project.

The VPD says in the last year alone, this has helped reduce bike thefts by 55 per cent in Whistler and 30 per cent in Richmond.

J. Allard, CEO and founder of Project 529, credits this expansion of the program across B.C. for the app's success.

"Today, Vancouver is recognized as the leader in addressing this epidemic, so much so that so that cities across North America are looking to the blueprint that's been established here to bring to their own cities," said Allard.

The tamper-resistant sticker that owners receive when registering bikes with Project 529 is meant to discourage thieves. (Denis Dossman/CBC)

That reputation is now spreading even further, with the World Bank enlisting Project 529 and the VPD to share their expertise with law enforcement in Bogota, Colombia — where more than two million cyclists struggle with ongoing bike thefts.

The World Bank adds that those discussions have apparently also attracted attention from Chile and Brazil. 

The news of the project's success comes during Fall Bike to Work Week, when thousands of cyclists across B.C. get pedalling to celebrate bike commuting and draw attention to cycling infrastructure.