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Free bike registration program launched in Lethbridge

Click to play video: 'New bike registration program comes to Lethbridge' New bike registration program comes to Lethbridge
WATCH ABOVE: Bike Index is a free registration service to help recover stolen bikes, which is used in Calgary and Edmonton. A southern Alberta teen brought the idea forward in the fall after he was tired of getting his bikes stolen, and it’s now available in Lethbridge. Eloise Therien has more. – Jun 12, 2020

The Lethbridge Police Service has introduced a new bike registration program after a teen brought forward the idea several months ago.

Nathan Sherwood, a 14-year-old student, felt he needed to take action after four of his bikes were stolen. He arranged a meeting with Mayor Chris Spearman, who referred him to the Lethbridge Police Commission.

“He told me to bring some ideas in September to talk to the police commission,” Sherwood said Friday. “One of those ideas was the Bike Index.”

Bike Index is a free registration service where bike owners place a water-resistant sticker with a QR code on their bike frame. Registration includes submitting the owner’s name, bike manufacturer, serial number and component information.

READ MORE: Thousands of cyclists are injured in Canada each year — here’s how to stay safe while riding a bike

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If the bike is stolen or lost, the owner can mark it as such, which notifies everyone in the Bike Index system. If someone comes across a lone bike they think might be lost or stolen, they can simply scan the QR code with their smartphone, which takes them to the bike information.

If a bike wasn’t registered before it went missing, the owner can still create an account and mark it as stolen.

Sherwood was gifted a brand-new TREK bike by LPS in front of the police station Friday — thanks for his contribution.

“I was very impressed by [his] presentation,” said Interim Chief Scott Woods.

According to the LPS website, 915 bikes were recovered last year but only 651 reports were made, which indicates a lack of reporting. The police station currently has around 200 recovered, unclaimed bikes in its compound, which are held for 30 days before being sent to auction.

Const. Shawn Davis said this new system will be a huge help in recovering lost or stolen bikes.

“We’re going to find a lot more stolen bikes quicker and hope to alleviate the bike thefts that are happening,” Davis said.

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Davis added that only police will have access to the owner’s phone number through the system, but citizens who use the scanner will be able to message them directly off the site.

Police suggested placing the sticker on the bike seat stem or somewhere easily accessible. If your bike is stolen, you can also report it to police online or at 403-328-4444.

Police advised cyclists to use a lock when they are not able to store bikes indoors, adding although theft can’t always be prevented, there are ways to secure property to deter thieves. They recommend locking the wheels and frame together and using a designated bike rack as opposed to poles, trees or fences.

Ten-thousand Bike Index stickers are available for Lethbridge residents, with Ascent Cycle, Bert and Macs, and Alpenland each carrying 1,000.

On Saturday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., stickers will be available in front of the LPS station located at 135 1 Avenue S. because the front desk is closed due to COVID-19.

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