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IT-based bicycle theft prevention

Ghent

The City of Ghent offers a rental bike to students at a very low cost of €40 per year. A lot of these bikes get stolen or go missing. In order to decrease the number of bike thefts, an IT-based anti-theft system will be developed.

Implementing sustainable mobility

StudentENMobiliteit (SM) is a non-profit organisation founded by the City of Ghent, the University and schools for Higher Education. The organisation rents more than 5,000 bicycles to students. It is important to find out which theft prevention system and the software development is the most suitable. Most probably, chips will be attached to the rental bikes, so they can be located by means of a monitor if stolen.

A proposal for a unique frame for rental bikes will be developed and tested. To screen parked bikes, a hand computer will be used. These hand computers will check whether a registered bike has been stolen and its status is. To check stolen rental bikes coming from other cities, the system and database will be further developed within the project. To develop the concept of ‘lokfiets’, which is a bicycle that is equipped with a ‘track jack’ system that the city hopes someone will steal so the thief can be traced.

SM will add an undetectable tracking system the ‘lokfiets’ will be locked and placed in public areas. When the bike will be stolen, SM gets a signal through the tracking system that the bike is in motion (read stolen). SM will then notify the police and give them the location of the bicycle and offender. In this way SM hopes to get a better view on the profile of bicycle thieves (other students, organised gangs, second hand merchandisers, etc). By identifying the thieves it will be easier to prevent theft.

How did the measure progress?

A unique frame has been developed and implemented. The frame has been developed especially for SM and cannot be used elsewhere. The organisation invested in a Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machine so they engrave all the new bicycles in house. The main tube of the frame is engraved with a large indelible number 4.5cm high. The next step is to install secured sheds for rental bikes and use the "lokfiets". By means of a hand computer, the city bicycle guards will be able to check on the spot whether registered bikes are stolen or not. Automatic data collection and management will simplify the administration.

The pilot "lokfiets", a chained bike to attract thieves, is postponed to later date, due to political resilience.

What were the outcomes of the measure?

Ghent expects the measure will:

  • Increase the number of relocated rental bikes by 10 percent;
  • Increase rental bike use by 5 percent; and
  • Increasing the numbers of visitors to the city centre by bike.

All 6000 student bikes have large engraved registration number and a buitl-in chip. This is easier to control lost or missing bikes. There is a minor decrease (2%) in bike theft. the number of solen bike recovered had increased.

In 2011: 156 recoverd bikes on 327 stolen ones
In 2012: 210 recoverd bikes on 320 stolen ones

Two covered bicycles parking are built on the premises of the University Colleges. The main purpose of this action is to give a safe shelter for student's bikes, when students are out of town.

 

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