SF's voluntary bicycle registry set to launch

San Francisco’s voluntary bicycle registration program is set to launch this week.

SAFE Bikes, a collaboration between a police advisory board and safe-streets advocates, will be aimed at reuniting owners with their stolen bicycles. It will officially launch Thursday.

It is estimated that while 600 to 800 bike thefts are reported each year in The City, with the largest number in the Mission district and South of Market, there are actually thousands stolen annually.

The Budget and Legislative Analyst’s Office reported last year that in 2012 more than 4,000 bikes were stolen in The City.

Police did recover 864 bicycles that year, although only 142 made it back to their owners. The registry program would likely increase that number.

“When bicycles are registered at SAFE Bikes, owners will receive a unique non-removable ID tag to stick on their bicycle frame,†Officer Matt Friedman said in a statement Friday. “Once registered in the system with their serial number, the owner can be contacted through the database. Police will use this information to contact the owners if the bike is stolen and recovered.â€

It will be free to register. Bike owners can sign up at local bicycle shops, local bicycle events or online at safebikes.org.

The program comes amid a substantial increase in bicycling locally.

“The number of bicyclists in San Francisco has nearly doubled in the last six years,†Morgan St. Clair of San Francisco SAFE, who will be overseeing SAFE Bikes, said in a statement. “And bike theft has increased 70 percent over the same period. We needed to take action.â€

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