In response to The Weekly Ringer’s “Bicycle thefts spike in fall semester as UMW Police Department plans to improve bike registration process,” students who bring their bicycles to campus should register them online in addition to using physical protection measures that show proof of registration on the bike.
To preface, bicycles are an amazing form of transportation that are environmentally friendly, intuitive to learn, fun to ride and essential for some students to get to class on time; this does come with the caveat of leaving your invaluable vehicle just outside of your class for anyone to take. Locking your bike up properly is just one of the steps to try to ensure safety for your bike; actively registering your bike, however, can not only assist law enforcement in finding your bike when it is stolen but can also be a physical deterrent to could-be bike thieves.
529 Garage is an online bike registration service made by cyclists dedicated to eliminating bike theft. Just by inserting a little bit about yourself and your bike and taking a few photos, anybody can register their bike onto a public database that law enforcement can check if needed. However, the real magic behind 529 Garage brings the digital into the physical with their 529 Shield sticker. This sticker shows could-be thieves that the bike is registered on a database and cared for, and numerous cities have reported decreases in bike theft after partnering with the organization.
This brings me to Mary Washington’s bike registration program. Through the University Police Department, students can register their bikes and receive a sticker with their own unique code for their own bike. This sticker physically shows anyone on campus or the local Fredericksburg community that your bike is registered and the main aspect that prevents the effectiveness of the registration sticker is lack of knowledge about effective bike registration.
That brings me to the ultimate reason for why I wrote this article: to (hopefully) lower bike theft on campus by increasing the awareness of effective bike registration. In order to keep our bikes safer on campus, in Fredericksburg and wherever one may ride, it is vital to understand how bike registration works and practice it to its fullest extent, both digitally and physically. In doing so, I hope to see bike theft decrease on our campus community.