UO to switch to digital bike registration to prevent bike theft
Hidetoshi Fukuda has always been seen with his bike since the day he set foot on the University of Oregon campus. The Japanese exchange student relied on his giant bike to commute to school on the daily basis, but recently he has been walking.
Parts of his bike, including the handlebars, were recently stolen when he parked it outside of the music school. At first, Fukuda was laughing about it. He posted a picture of his bike on Facebook with the caption, “Somebody decapitated my bike!” Less than 10 days later, Fukuda also lost the front wheel.
This is not an unusual scene at UO. It was reported that 183 bikes were reportedly stolen last year and 20 bikes this year on the UO campus. According to the Eugene city website, the bike theft rate increases every year. In 2013, there was a jump of 64 percent compared to 2012.
Not all students report their stolen bikes. Fukuda said he hasn’t reported to the UOPD due to the time-consuming and complicated procedure.
To step up the prevention and recovery of stolen bikes, the Department of Parking and Transportation decided to run a new online bike registration system, Project 529. Project 529 is a service created by a group of cyclists in Portland geared towards university campuses. The UO is the second institution after University of Washington to apply the system.
Different from the old system, which consisted of filling out information on paper and a time-consuming data entry procedure, students and faculty can pick up a free kit at UO Department of Parking and Transportation or Outdoor program. The program allows cyclists to register their vehicle online or through the mobile application. Students can choose to stick a permanent Project 529 sticker onto their bikes.
The project also has features that help speed up the recovery process, Department of Parking and Transportation office manager Paula Ellison said. In addition to uploading pictures, reporting stolen bikes is just a button away from notifying UOPD in the mobile app. Forty six people have signed up for Project 529 so far.
“This is not the prime time for people to register their bikes,” Ellison said. “But we expect the project to run its maximum capacity in the fall.”
Along with the increasing number of stolen bikes, the Department of Parking and Transportation is also facing another problem. Over a course of five months during 2015, the Department of Parking and Transportation has impounded 190 bikes left abandoned on campus, and the number is rising quickly — the department impounded 3 bikes in February; the number raised to 44 bikes in March and to around 50 bikes since.
Ellison said that abandoned bikes are taking up parking spots and encourage bike theft on campus.
UO student Anna Parks, who commutes around with her bike daily, said she has seen many abandoned bikes around campus, which are usually missing parts and are unusable. She said it might partly be due to when students move away, they don’t want to take their bikes with them.
“Still, I think they should just give it to somebody else, or sell it,” Parks said. “Instead of leaving their bikes for others to deal with.”
Fukuda has not touched his bike since his front wheel got stolen.
“I couldn’t use it anymore so I don’t care anymore,” Fukuda said.
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