MyBike: central register against bike thefts in Belgium

Yesterday, the federal and regional mobility ministers in Belgium officially launched MyBike, the first free national bicycle register to help prevent bicycle theft. The draft law for this was already approved last year, but now, therefore, the registration of bicycles can officially start.

Owners can store the details of their bicycles, file a report, and check whether a second-hand bicycle has been reported as stolen. The initiative for a national bicycle register comes from the Minister for Mobility, Georges Gilkinet (Ecolo).

It is based on the Brussels system, which already exists under the name MyBike.Brussels, and on which more than 50,000 people have registered.

At least 70 bike thefts per day

The federal government has included the fight against bicycle theft in the National Security Plan. Figures from 2020 pointed to as many as 70 thefts per day or 24,592 bikes over the whole year. According to a study by Vias Institute, only 48% of bicycle theft victims report it to the police.

After two years of negotiation, the different Belgian mobility Ministers signed a cooperation agreement over the register, after which the construction of the database started. The federal government oversaw its management, and the regions started developing the user portal.

Police forces can consult the database of the new system, which will replace the old bicycle registration system via engraving of the national registration number.”With MyBike, we offer bicycle owners, as well as police and justice, the tools to tackle bicycle theft in a more efficient and punitive way,” Gilkinet said.

Sticker and code

Specifically, bike owners will be able to apply for a free sticker that will be applied to the bike’s frame and cannot be removed after 24 hours. That sticker, which is resistant to damage and vandalism, will contain a unique code.

The bike owner—any Belgian over 13 can register—can log in securely to the registry. He can store all the details of the bicycle, such as photos and proof of purchase, and also report theft. When buying a used bicycle, the potential buyer can scan the code on the bicycle and check whether it has been reported stolen by the owner.

In case of resale, ownership of a bike can be transferred transparently and securely in the register. A system has also been developed to integrate current Brussels users into the new national system seamlessly.

100,000 bike thefts a year

Almost 100,000 bicycles are stolen in Belgium every year. Many are found by the police but cannot be returned to their owners, so they are forgotten in storage areas.

According to data from FPS Mobility, most bicycle thefts take place in the public domain, either in a freely accessible bicycle shed (41%) or on the public road outside a bicycle shed (34%). One in five thefts occur at home (20%), and 4% in locked bicycle sheds.

International star

“We must do everything we can to prevent bicycle theft,” said Gilkinet at the presentation of the bicycle registration system. “Bicycle theft impedes bicycle use. If we strengthen this fight against bicycle theft, we will also get more cyclists.”

“Brussels inspires the country,” stated current Brussels Mobility Minister Elke Van den Brant (Groen) proudly. “We have worked well with the different regions.” Van den Brandt is confident that the new national registration system will also inspire abroad and become “an international star”.


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