Are you looking for a model example of municipal investment in cycling? Look no further than Calgary, Alberta, who returned 21.5 percent of bikes reported stolen to the Calgary Police Service in 2020.
"From 2014 to 2019 we averaged only a 12% return rate to owners. With the introduction of Bike Index, we have seen that number grow to 21.50%. I think that is a pretty good start to the first year of use," says Sergeant Brennan Vanderwater of the Calgary Police Service.
Thanks to easy registration with Bike Index, Calgary has jumpstarted bike registration and recovery efforts, registering nearly 16,000 bikes in just about a year since their public launch.
Bike owners in Calgary have reported over 1,823 stolen bikes on Bike Index since the beginning of 2020. According to CPS, Bike Index has aided in the recovery of 212 bikes in Calgary since the official launch of their partnership Bike Index in June of 2020.
Real registration, theft, and recovery numbers are likely higher as Bike Index data are self-reported. Users may have registered with Bike Index but did not add Calgary as their location. Bike theft victims may have also reported their thefts to Calgary without sharing their Bike Index registration info. 3,152 stolen bikes were reported to CPS via their internal system and CPS gained an additional 336 recoveries from this system in 2020, where there could have been some unlinked overlap with Bike Index reports.
What is certain though is that the chance of recovery skyrocketed for users who reported their thefts to both Bike Index and CPS. Calgary's recovery rates in 2020 were over double Bike Index's typical recovery rate.
Numbers from Calgary show what is possible when communities make registration easy and accessible, and successfully encourage bike owners to report bike thefts.
Since implementing Bike Index, Calgary has recovered an estimated $339,000 USD in stolen bicycles. For each bike owner that has registered their bike in Calgary, Calgary has been able to return around $21 in stolen property to bike owners.
During the busiest cycling weeks of the year - typically in the warmer summer months - over 700 Calgarian cyclists registered their bikes with Bike Index and CPS via easy online registration forms that CPS put on their web pages and advertised on social media.
A huge registration booster came from bike shops and local organizations that offer free registration for their patrons, adding upwards of 300 additional bike registrations per week in Calgary. Numbers are expected to be significantly higher this summer, as registration efforts have become streamlined since implementation last year.
The Calgary police Service is very happy with the success we have had incorporating Bike Index into our Crime Prevention initiatives. Bike index has been used to help recover and return over 212 Bikes to date since the public launch in Calgary in June 2020.
CPS credits their Evidence and Property Units for reuniting recovered bikes with their owners.
"The messaging we try to get out is that the program is working, and so simple to use," says Vanderwater.
Calgary is the perfect example of how, when a law enforcement organization incentivizes free and easy registration throughout their community, they reap the recovery benefits.