by Lily Williams
Topics: Bike Recovery, Donation
Topics: Bike Recovery, Donation
Happy new year, y'all! Whatever you have resolved to not follow through with post-January, we hope you have enjoyed your holiday season and have made some great memories. We made a couple of good memories this year as well, and are looking forward to moving into 2018 with the sustained goal of registering and recovering even more bikes than in 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, and 2013.
What have we been up to this year?
We've been up to a lot! If you want to scroll through our entire news page, you can see some of what we have been up to, but that might be rather time consuming and if you peruse Bike Index and/or read our press releases with some regularity (which you do! right?) then you would have seen all of these articles already.
<img src="https://files.bikeindex.org/uploads/Pu/78518/bike_index_nonprofit.png" align="right" width=40%>
2017 was a year of growth for Bike Index. We spent our first full year as a nonprofit. Previously we had been an Illinois benefit corporation, which is an organization that uses a business to support a mission. But we realized that we could do all of the same things by being a nonprofit and actually have a bit more freedom to just register and recover bikes.
We also grew. We have just under 100,000 unique users on Bike Index. We have now recovered more than 4,300 stolen bikes, and we now have over 150,000 bikes on file. We also have over 400 organizations, many are official partnerships, and we added two new universities: the University of Washington and the University of Pittsburgh. The Bend, OR police partnered with their local Pine Mountain Sports to start using Bike Index in their city and set up a bait bike program, which reduced bike theft in Bend by 60 percent in just one year, which is B A N A N A S. We hope to build upon this year's growth and successes and add even more bikes to Bike Index in 2018, and encourage even more people to ride without the fear of being unable to recover their stolen bike. In a perfect world, every single bike would be in Bike Index.
2017 was a pretty good year for Bike Index. Other years were pretty good too, but since 2017 is about to come to a close, we figured we would say a few last words about it. In addition to the above, we formed a bunch of new partnerships, which to us, means endorsing and working with groups who have something we think is awesome and that could provide a benefit to Bike Index users. Here are a couple of momentous new partnerships of 2017.
1) We partnered with our first insurance company: the renter's and homeowner's certified B-corp, Lemonade. Through Lemonade's site or app, you can get insurance for your stuff in 90 seconds. Not only are they fast, but they are reasonably priced, and of course, they protect your bike, which was the big selling point for us. We wanted to share Lemonade with any of the Bike Index users who were looking for insurance that would cover their bicycle(s).
I discovered Lemonade when a friend bought a bike from the shop I worked at. She mentioned this great and easy insurance that would quickly and faithfully pay claims. When her bike got stolen from a 'secure' parking garage - another theme of 2017 - :'( it was the perfect test for Lemonade. She said Lemonade was excellent in handling her stolen bike and paying out her claim.
Lemonade also donates unclaimed money to causes, such as Bike Index! If you register through this link Bike Index will list as your nonprofit of choice. When we began with Lemonade, they provided insurance in New York, New Jersey, California, and Illinois. In just a few short months, they have expanded additionally into Texas, Nevada, Ohio, and Rhode Island, and are going international. Yay Lemonade!
And speaking of international, a group in the Netherlands, Bike Fair, is using Bike Index registries to cross reference the tens of thousands of bikes that get stolen there each year. So technically, we're going international as well.
2) The city of Boise, ID reached out to us and asked if we would replace their existing registry, and in just a few short months, they entered almost 10,000 bikes into Bike Index. Boise is the most excellent model of how any city could implement Bike Index with few resources and a devoted official or two. Not only did one officer from Boise contact us about Bike Index for Boise, but he also coordinated registration drives and has personally compiled lists and talked to any and all organizations that deal with bikes in Boise. That means bike shops, universities, bike bars(?!), tri shops, advocacy groups, and more. This same officer was also concerned about transient populations and made sure to find a way to account for them in their new Bike Index registry.
Completely awesome. The more people in any one location that are in Bike Index, the significantly larger chance that a stolen bike will be recovered in that location. Boise is serving as an excellent model, demonstrating that it doesn't take tens of thousands of dollars to effectively fight against bike theft and register bikes.
3) We analyzed the hell out of two new trackers and we think they are both awesome and would recommend them for use. Like I said above, we try to only endorse products that we think will be useful for you guys, based on how useful they are for us, as people who are always rolling around town on bikes and who are always worried that we aren't doing enough to keep our bikes safe and in our hands, cause heaven forbid two locks inside of a locked building isn't enough.
One of these trackers is a tiny little doo-dad called Iota. You can read more about Iota in Bryan's review here. You can easily hide your Iota somewhere on your bike, which makes it great for people who prefer the stealth approach.
The other tracker is the multi-functional Boomerang, which is pretty big, for those who prefer the "yeah-that's-right-I-am-watching-you" approach. You can read more about it in Bryan's review here.
We hope that bike lock and tracker companies continue to send us products for review :) so that we can help you guys choose the best products for your ~bikestyle~.
4) We've recently been talking to our new friends over at <a target="none" href=https://twitter.com/redtruck">Red Truck</a>, a site that helps professional athletes sell their gear and donate profits to a charity of their choice. We just so happen to have a professional bike rider on staff (me, Lily) who is looking forward to selling stuff and spreading Bike Index through each layer and community of cyclists. This means professionals too.
There are huge barriers to entry for professional cycling, namely that in order to compete, you have to buy a light bike. Then of course you have to be able to pay for routine maintenance, if you don't know how to work on your bike yourself. We hope Bike Index can direct users to a place where they can purchase used bikes that allow them to compete with other people who can afford super expensive light bikes because even though we all love bikes, they're expensive.
Red Truck also has some great ideas for development, bike ownership, and tracking. Stay tuned for what we hope will be great strides in bike protection in the next year, especially hand-in-hand with another new partner, VerifiR. Can you imagine a world in which all bikes are registered in Bike Index, and tracked with a chip embedded in the frame?
5) Revisiting something we mentioned above, we partnered with the University of Washington in Seattle, which is huge for us. Seattle has tons of cyclists who love to ride. I mean, you have to love to ride to ride in the rain every day. Seattle consistently ranks as the #1 city on Bike Index, meaning we get more visits each day from the Seattle area than any other city in the world. If anyone else would like to challenge this, please feel free to give them a run for their money :) We have been courting the Seattle PD for pretty much … well … years now, and while there's tons of informal rank-and-file use, we've nothing official worked out yet. We'd love for that to change in 2018. (Hey SPD - tons of your officers are already using Bike Index, so we'd love to build an official registry for you. Drop us a line. We're here. )
Speaking of Seattle, CNN covered a local hero who has used Bike Index to recover around 40 bikes just, in his own time. He is known as Bike Batman, and he's finally taken off the mask, so to speak. If a citizen superhero can do all this on his own, just think of how, say, a more official group could use Bike Index to recover even more bikes. (Seriously, SPD, even a text would be a fine intro … we're here. Just holla'.)
We did more than just register bikes and form new partnerships in 2017. We also rapid-fundraised a ton of support and cash for a new bike and travel gear for bad-ass Korean bike traveler - and Portland bike theft victim - Minhyeong Kim. If you missed that story, you can recap it here, but Minhyeong had his bike and all of his gear stolen only a couple weeks into his epic Canada-to-Argentina bike tour. Naturally, we couldn't let that stop him, so we rallied the troops. This came together so fast, yet so well, and made me (Bryan) super proud to be a Portlander. Hundreds of folks came out of the woodwork with donations of food, cash, bikes, gear, clothing … you name it. That was the highlight of 2017 for me, right there, as we showed Minhyeong the real Portland and got him back on the road. Minhyeong is currently in San Cristobal de las Casas in southern Mexico - 3300 miles from Portland! So he's doing awesome. My most heartfelt thank you to everyone who helped make this happen.
We also had a ton of epic bike recovery stories in 2017, which we post about each month on our blog, but here are a couple of stand-outs :
We help recover a 'quite literally irreplaceable' Romanian women's bike with enormous sentimental value
"I had (this now recovered bike) for 30 years, so it is a sentimental thing for me"
A stolen bakfiets (not even registered in the Bike Index!) is ID'd and chased down thanks to our Portland twitter feed
The most Portland recovery over - a BTA/Street Trust member recovers a PBOT employee's stolen Waterford
An epic cargobike recovery in SF - once spotted, one of the SF bike crew stealthily tailed the guy until he made sure it had been returned to the owner
Have a look at our news archives for more wonderful 2017 bike recovery stories.
And every year we get the chance to work with more and more law enforcement partners: PPB, Bend PD, Seattle PD, LAPD, Clackamas Co, King County… all of you do amazing things, like creating a task force or having one cop become an absolute hero and recover a billion bikes or initiate building a Bike Index registry for your city and entering 10,000 bikes into it in just three months. Thanks hugely for all your efforts.
And of course, no end of the year post would be complete without a couple of shoutouts, Bryan-style:
"Without naming names (because I know some of y'all are out there browse Bike Index on the clock at work): C.O., T.M., M.G., D.D., @Fallenstedt, @r27d, RK, @plattyjo, @howrad, Dave @ Cycling Utah, @pedalpt, bongophotoman, @pedaldream ,@cqtel, @voxkev, @joshchernoff, @reedkatu … so many great people I can't even keep count. And enormous thanks all of our nine billion partners and the literally tons of other folks I'm sure I forgot to mention here. Seriously, it blows my mind that there are now so many of you helping Bike Index now that I can't keep track of you all. That's the best thing that happened to me for Bike Index in 2017 - seeing so many great folks from all corners working to protect bikes in their 'hoods, for their friends, but also for complete strangers. For what was a pretty tough year, on a lot of fronts, all of your awesomeness gives me hope. So thanks hugely."
One of our resolutions for 2018 is to blog a bit more, among many other things. If you have topics you would like to hear about from the perspective of a bike registering expert, let us know. And we would also love to see how you guys start out 2018. Hopefully tomorrow includes a bike ride. Feel free to tweet @BikeIndex with photos or stories that we can share. ANNNNNDD in early 2018 we are going to launch a big new program. More details to come, so stay tuned! <3
BRING IT ON, 2018.