Protect your bike in 5 minutes: 529 Garage

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Did you register your bike in 529 Garage already?

You should, as there is always a chance it gets stolen. Mine was nearly stolen at the Holocaust monument a day after it opened. I was walking back from the monument when I saw someone sitting on one knee fiddling next to my bike. It took me a second to realise what he was doing: then I yelled at him and he ran away. I considered chasing him but realised that I wouldn’t really know what to do if I would catch him, which would have been fairly easy as he wasn’t very fast. I learned later, that you should call 911 if your bike is in the process of being stolen.

529 Garage

You can imagine that I was happy with Bike Ottawa’s initiative to cooperate with 529 Garage, an initiative that allows you to register your bike nationwide in a standardised database. I often hear here in Ottawa that our stolen bikes get shipped to Montreal, a city that doesn’t participate in the initiative yet from what I can see. I am guessing it is a language issue.

Bike Ottawa with the Ottawa Police and the Ottawa Safety Council kicked off the initiative in Ottawa this summer. Volunteers have been out and about at 11 events to promote and help registering your bike. Since this summer about 3600 bikes are registered in Ottawa, according to Bike Ottawa’s Bruce Fanjoy, which is quite impressive. According to Donna Williams from 529 Garage, in a 25 km radius from downtown Ottawa, there are nearly 1300 bikes with a shield, and 306 stolen bikes in the system.

Security decal with a unique 529 Garage number

529 garage infographic with bike theft data
source: courtesy of 529 Garage

You can order a decal for your bike to warn thieves that your bike is registered in a database. Of course it is not going to help if they strip your bike for the parts but it might discourage a thief. You can go to a police station with your smartphone and show the photo in your app to receive a decal. You can also go to one of the many cooperating bike stores in Ottawa. The list of stores is on the Ottawa Police website here: decals at bike stores (at a small fee).

529 Garage smartphone app

The 529 app for your smartphone is easy to use. It will ask for the serial number, some features and photos. If a bike is stolen, the owner can send a broadcast to other users. Don’t forget to set the right settings for this.

If you haven’t registered yet, this might be a good time now the salt is out on the roads and you won’t use that brand new bike for a while. Put as much information and photos in as 529 Garage allows you, making it easier for the police and others to recognise it.

I found there is a bit of guessing inside the app, especially in the search page in the app, but you’ll figure it out.

Don’t wait until it is too late. Vancouver has shown some promising numbers with a 30% drop in theft.

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