Hundreds of unclaimed bikes prompt proposal to change registration systems in SLC

SALT LAKE CITY – The Salt Lake City Mayor’s Office wants to back-up bicyclists’ protections by changing antiquated bike registration systems through proposed amendments.

More than 1,400 bicycles were stolen or found abandoned last year in Salt Lake City, and only 83 of those were actually returned to the owner.

“Oftentimes there’s just dozens and dozens of bikes that we’re having a very difficult time in finding who their actual owner is, and getting them back to them,” said Deputy Chief Josh Scharman of Salt Lake City Police.

“There’s a good chance that your bike is here… the problem is proving who has that bike and how that is registered to you,” he said, standing amid hundreds of stolen and abandoned bicycles at an evidence facility in Salt Lake City.

Salt Lake City resident Adam Bagby is one of the thousands who has had his bike stolen

”I live downtown, work downtown, use a bike to get around all the time,” Bagby said.

Unfortunately, like many others, Bagby’s bike was never returned to him.

“It’s kind of just being helpless once that happens, there’s not much you can do about it,” Bagby said. “It’s a big inconvenience when it’s your primary form of transportation,” he added.

Salt Lake City Police say the issue is due, in part, to an antiquated system for registering bicycles.

“The registration process isn’t very comprehensive. The same registration process we had when we were kids… that same process is in place today,” Scharman said.

That process requires residents to go to their local police department or fire station and register their bike. Then they receive a red sticker to place on the axle.

“It doesn’t allow for the current technology that’s available, including searchable databases,” Scharman said.

A new plan from the mayor’s office is looking to give bike owner’s another layer of protection—but it requires changing the current ordinance.

The proposed amendment is three-fold. If approved it would:

  • Get rid of the written forms bike shops currently have to fill out for the police in order to license the bikes that they sell
  • Provide a link online at www.SLCPD.com for residents to register their own bikes
  • Eliminate a $2 fee, allowing residents to register their own bike, on their own time, from anywhere, for free

Based on current numbers, that licensing fee brings the city less than $3,000 a year in revenue.

Once people register through the online database, the information will be fed to police records. Police can then store those records and search them.

“That new process will allow officers to run the serial number and contact the owner right away when we recover an abandoned or stolen bike,” Scharman said. “Ultimately, our goal is to get them back to the owners that use their hard-earned money to buy them,” he added.

Scharman said they have received positive feedback over the idea, and Bagby is also optimistic about the proposed changes.

“Just knowing there’s a system I can register this with and be able to rely on that if the worst case happens,” Bagby said, “And making it easy and free online seems like a great way to go about it.”

The amendment will be presented to the Salt Lake City Council April 3, and they will vote to pass or reject the changes on April 17.

Residents are encouraged to use that two-week period to reach out to their councilors and share their thoughts on the proposed changes. You can find contact information online by clicking here.