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The Bikes Are Back In Town

Estelle Kline

The bikes are back at the Reservoir, but what about the rest of the city? The Baltimore Sun recently reported that the Department of Recreation and Parks’ Ride Around the Reservoir program was reinstated thanks to new funds, primarily from M&T Bank and the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. The program, which provides free bicycles and helmets for rides around three city parks, was halted three months ago when the bikes were stolen.

Baltimore is not the only city with bike theft problems. In fact, bike theft is a vexing problem in most cities. But the crime has given rise to a variety of creative projects:

  • Bikenapped is an interactive map plotting the location and description of stolen bikes. It started in Boston. Creator Lulu Li, a graduate student at Harvard University, told Harvard University’s Office of Sustainability that her bike was stolen outside of the Harvard Architecture school her freshmen year. She'd had the bike a long time: her father gave it to her when she was 10. By the time a second bike was stolen from Li during graduate school, she had the passion and skill to create this website to help others with similar experiences.Bikenapped acts not only as a map of places where bicycles were stolen, but more importantly as a message board that allows bike theft victims to share their stories with others and maybe locate their bikes. But sorry, Charm City cyclists: currently Bikenapped is only available in Boston and San Francisco.

  • Design Against Crime, a UK-based independent research center out of the University of the Arts London, has been researching all kinds of theft since 1999, according to their web page. In their Bikeoff initiative, started in 2004, they created a compilation of case studies on everything involving bikes (such as Guerrilla Bike Lanes, Bike Crumbs, and LOOK!). Most useful is a chart detailing the different types of bicycle locks. The chart contains hyperlinks to webpages that detail each kind of lock.
  • Bike Index. This past summer, two bike registry systems combined forces for more successful recovery of stolen bikes. and are now Before the merge, focused on having shops and private owners register their bicycles upon purchase. was for registering your bike after it had been stolen. You can tweet your second hand bike’s serial number at @isitstolen and the twitter bot will tell you whether the bike you’re thinking about buying—or the one you just bought--was stolen. Bryan Hance, the man behind,  announced the merger in June in a post on was joyful and optimistic and reported that the newly combined team had already found a stolen bike.

    Clearly there are a lot of great resources out there. Where in Baltimore, aside from the police, would you turn after having a bike stolen? Comment below.