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Bike Index

Register Your Bike. It’s Easy, It’s Free, and It Helps Everyone

Bike Index, a free national bike registry, just launched an iOS app to make it even easier

Note: GJEL Accident Attorneys regularly sponsors coverage on Streetsblog San Francisco and Streetsblog California. Unless noted in the story, GJEL Accident Attorneys is not consulted for the content or editorial direction of the sponsored content.

All you need to do is take a picture of your beloved steed and upload it, along with the bike's serial number. That way there's an online record of ownership, easily available to anyone who recovers a stolen bike, wonders if a bike is stolen, or wants to return a stolen or lost bike to its rightful owner.

Now it's even easier than ever, because Bike Index just launched an app for Apple users.

Bike Index has steadily been replacing a hodgepodge of barely maintained, costly municipal bike registration systems that have been used by police departments to harass and ticket bike riders as much as to track stolen bikes. It launched eleven years ago, providing a valuable free service for bike owners, bike shops, police departments, and potential bike buyers by maintaining a record of ownership in an easily accessible database.

In addition to the registry, Bike Index offers tips on the best ways to safely lock your bike, as well as how to increase your chances of recovering a stolen bike. For example, the first thing to do is file a police report and register the bike on Bike Index if you haven't already done so. The site also offers social media templates to help spread the word about a stolen bike, and advice on what to do if you find your bike out "in the wild" or listed for sale online (tip: "Don't waste your time engaging with these sites unless you enjoy Kafka-esque discussions with unhelpful people who will do nothing but send you form letters and/or ignore you").

Since 2013, Bike Index has registered over 1.2 million bikes across the U.S. Over 14,000 stolen bikes have been recovered through the site (with a value of over $25 million). That's about ten percent of the total number of stolen bikes in their registry - so it's not a panacea, but that's a lot more recovered bikes than would otherwise have been returned. Some of the stories highlighted on Bike Index's website show that the more people know about the registry, the more likely they are to scan it if they find a bike, and the more useful it becomes for everyone.

The new iOS app is a huge step towards making it even easier to use Bike Index. On the app - available at the Apple App store - bike owners can create an account, register one or more bikes, add photos and descriptions, easily transfer ownership if they sell their bike, and quickly look up a bike they are considering buying. Meanwhile, bike owners who don't use an Apple device can still use the Bike Index website to access the same information.

The ideal registration process, of course, would simply involve a single upload, with no more thought about it. No personal information is available to anyone searching the database - just a picture and description of the bike. More information about privacy on Bike Index can be found here.

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