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Winnipeg mayor calls for overhaul of bike registry, aims to reduce theft problem

The wheels are in motion to introduce a new bike registry in Winnipeg, as the city’s mayor is bringing the issue to City Hall next week.

Scott Gillingham will bring forward a motion at Monday’s Executive Policy Committee meeting calling for an overhaul of the registry, which is designed to combat theft, enhance public safety and promote sustainable transportation.

It will also call for a more effective way to track stolen bikes. As many as 2,000 bikes are reported stolen in Winnipeg each year, with many more going unreported. The city recovers around 1,000 bikes annually, with less than 10 per cent returned to their owners.

Gillingham says the current registry is online and costs $7.35 to use, and his proposal would make it free and multi-jurisdictional. If a stolen bike showed up outside the province, it could be tracked back to here. He points to apps called Project 529 and Bike index as an example and wants city administration to come back with a report in 90 days and find out what’s possible in our city.

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“I’m asking our staff to talk to the Winnipeg Police Service, talk to WRENCH, talk to Bike Winnipeg, so that we can do a better job of tracking bicycles and hopefully reduce the number of bicycles stolen, and get more bikes registered,” Gillingham said.

Charles Feaver, who is chair of Bike Winnipeg’s bike theft working group, says Vancouver has gone through similar changes and theft in that city has dropped 42 per cent since a new registry was unveiled.

The mayor doesn’t believe registering a bike needs to be mandatory, but thinks by making it free, it will reduce barriers and get more people signed up.