Bike theft declining


Bike officer Patty May impounds a bike that was parked illegally next to the Whitehall Classroom building on Tuesday, September 15, 2009. Photo by Zach Brake

By Becca Clemons

As classes resume, more and more bicycles are appearing around Lexington and its college campus areas. This marks the second year that UK cyclists have been required to register their vehicles with the university and display permits on their bikes.

According to UK Parking and Transportation Services, one of the main benefits of bicycle registration is a greater ease in locating stolen bicycles.

“We looked at programs at other schools, and just the presence of a registration program decreased theft,” Marketing and Promotions Specialist for UK PTS Chrissie Balding Tune said.

Penn State University saw a 25 percent reduction in theft since starting its bicycle registration program, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Montana each noticed a 20 percent decline.

Most universities with bike registration programs that UK Parking and Transportation Services contacted reported some degree of theft reduction, Tune said.

Since July 2009, over 4,500 bikes have been registered with PTS.  The university keeps the make, model and serial number of each bike on file, information that can be communicated to campus or city police if there’s a theft.

Registration is good for the lifetime of the bike, so if a student graduates and stays in Lexington, his or her bike can still be tracked for safety purposes, Tune said. If a bike is illegally parked, registration makes it easier to locate its owner and can prevent safety hazards and unnecessary impounding.

“Registration is a good idea so that people are held accountable for their bikes,” freshman Billy Manning said. “But [if stolen], they probably wouldn’t stay on campus and the permit would be easy to take off.”

PTS said that more bicycles may also mean a greater chance of theft or parking misuse if bike locks are not used or implemented in appropriate locations.

“Even off campus, I’m surprised at how many bikes I’ve seen around,” undecided freshman Cheyenne Cornett said.

Tune said biking is becoming a more viable mode of transportation than driving, and the city of Lexington, along with UK, is helping to promote this idea via the Share the Road campaign that promotes education and safety among bicyclists, motorists and pedestrians.

“Biking is faster, and you can cut through campus and stay off the roads so it’s safer,” Cornett said. “Plus it’s good exercise.”

There is a grace period during the start of school for students to get their bikes registered.  After the grace period, unregistered or illegally parked bikes can receive a citation or be impounded.

If stolen vehicles are found by local police, a look at the bike’s serial number, with or without the permit attached, and a call to the UK PTS can get bikes back in the hands of their owners, said Tune.

Bicycles can be registered online at the PTS website or by visiting Parking Structure No. 5, and more information about the Share the Road organization is available through the PTS website.