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City of Kingston embraces 529 Garage as first step in fighting bike theft

Although it took a bit longer than advocates had hoped, the City of Kingston has implemented the 529 Garage app in Kingston to help deter bike theft, and encourages riders to register.

529 Garage creates a database of crowd sourced information and can help police locate stolen bikes, or even return bikes to their owners without police intervention.

In the past many victims of bike theft never see their stolen bike until it’s put up for auction by Kingston Police, the hope is with 529 Garage that will no longer be the case. 

Bruce Bursey from the Kingston Coalition for Active Transportation (KCAT) says the main goal is to improve the current system which results in a negligible amount of cyclists reunited with their bikes.

“We’ll wait and see, but I anticipate that’s one way we’ll be able to measure the effectiveness is by getting more bikes back to their owners sooner than when the auction is held,” Bursey said.

“Because right now it’s not very effective and not very efficient.”

Many victims of bike theft have expressed their displeasure with police in the past, alleging that Kingston Police simply do not seem to care about finding thieves and returning stolen bikes to their owners.

529 Garage could act as a helpful tool in locating and returning stolen bikes, and the app claims to have deterred bike theft by upwards of 40% in cities like Vancouver since its implementation through education around the importance of bike registration, security and reporting.

A police representative is expected to join in future discussions on downtown bike safety, with a committee made up of representatives of Cycle Kingston, Velo Club, KCAT, Frontenac Cycle, and the Downtown BIA.

Bursey added that he hopes through the cycling community being more involved in these discussions, they will be able to understand the challenges the police face and be able to help provide solutions.

Kingston Police say that so far in Kingston 62 bikes have been registered with 44 of those taking place in October, and thus far two bikes have been reported stolen.

Although 529 Garage has proven effective in reducing bike theft in the past, the cycling community and City of Kingston still anticipate more changes to improve bike safety.

“It’s an important next step in dealing with this issue of bike theft but it’s not by any means the only thing that needs to be done,” Bursey said.

He pointed to safe bike parking as an important infrastructure change that will help riders feel more safe.

Bursey says the need for secure bike parking is becoming better understood, which could help incentivize developers to include it in their plans for new buildings or to retrofit existing buildings.

529 Garage says registration on the app takes on average less than six minutes, and could help to put a dent in the 200 or more bikes recovered by Kingston Police annually.

Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporterhttp://ygknews.ca
Born and raised in Whitby, Ontario, Owen has been living in Kingston for about three years after starting the band Willy Nilly. Prior to that he worked at CKLB radio in Yellowknife and completed studies in Niagara College's Broadcasting program.

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