We're gearing up to tackle a serious problem in 2019. We need your support to make it happen.
We have a bold goal: raise $50,000 to bring 529 Garage to Toronto, working closely with Toronto Police and the City of Toronto.
529 Garage is the largest community-powered bike recovery service. Its community includes over 400 law enforcement agencies, universities, bike clubs and bike shops around the world.
It has been impactful in tackling the two prongs of bike theft: reporting and recovery.
For example, in the three years since its implementation in the Greater Vancouver Area, they've registered nearly 70,000 bikes to their searchable database. Bike theft has dropped by 30%. Today, the system helps return almost one bike a day to its owner.
Here's why we need to bring 529 Garage to Toronto - and quickly.
What's the problem?
Bike theft is a huge concern in Toronto.
With 4,000+ reported thefts in 2017* alone, people across the city are dealing with stolen bikes and little prospect of getting them back.
This isn't a new problem. Year over year stats reveal that incidences of bike theft are up a whopping 89% since 2009.
Recovery rates are abysmal.
In 2016, only 49 bikes were recovered out of 3,728 reported stolen. That’s a 1% recovery rate.
Compare that to the fact that 60% of cars that are stolen are recovered.
What's more, we know that many more people don’t report bikes being stolen. Bike theft is under-reported by a factor of 4 or 5.
Theft is preventing people from riding.
The sad reality is that nearly everyone who rides in Toronto has had a bike stolen. Whether it’s a $3,000 carbon fibre road bike or a $50 beater, having a bike stolen can be devastating.
The direct financial impact of bike theft in Toronto is $16-20M per year. This doesn't take into account the many indirect costs, including the countless hours individuals are spending trying to track down their bikes. From what we know, the few instances in which people have retrieved their bikes have involved a lot of time, stress, and resources.
The current system isn’t working.
Sure, you can get a solid U-lock, seek out secure bike storage, and register your bike with the Toronto Police - but with recovery rates consistently under 1%, we don’t blame people for feeling disillusioned.
Perhaps most frustrating is that when the police do recover stolen bikes, they often can’t get them back to owners because we don’t have a streamlined registration system that includes photos, foolproof identifiers, and links to other jurisdictions.
Not knowing whether your bike will remain where you locked it is an unsettling feeling, and we know it’s stopping people from feeling confident biking in the city.
That’s why this year, we’re setting a bold goal to raise $50,000 to tackle bike theft in Toronto.
We need to double down on outreach and education to get the word out, and that’s why we are asking for your help!
As in past years, we’re teaming up with CultureLink Settlement and Community Services to be able to issue tax receipts to anyone who makes a donation to our Street Smarts education work, which includes a host of programming, like:
Distributing the Toronto Cyclists Handbook in 14 languages
Delivering free safe cycling workshops in neighbourhoods across Toronto in a welcoming environment
Meeting people at Get Lit! stations along busy bike routes to educate riders about the importance of staying visible
Developing short videos and social media shareables to navigate our streets with confidence while building empathy for others
Please head over to their Canada Helps page make a donation that will support our work to end bike theft.
*According to the Toronto Police Service's Open Data Portal