Free bike registration program aims to safeguard San Francisco bikes

I was more than a little alarmed to read the statistics for stolen bikes in San Francisco. In 2012, one bike was stolen every three hours. Over 4,000 bikes were stolen in that year alone. And of the bikes that were recovered (about 850), less than 17% of bikes found their way back home. So many lonely bikes and wheel-less bikers!


Thankfully a new and free bike registry — SAFE Bikes — aims to improve those numbers. According to a recent update from the SF Examiner, a San Francisco police advisory board and safe-streets advocates are launching the free registration program this month to help reunite bikers with stolen bikes. The SAFE Bikes program allows riders to register a bicycle’s serial number, make/model, and color into a secure database that’s connected to the police department. The owner will receive a unique and permanent ID tag to place on the frame. If a registered bike is ever stolen and recovered, SAFE will identify the bike and contact the owner.


A quick survey of some of my fellow San Francisco bike commuters (ok, a group of friends at a dinner party) reveals that not a-one has registered his or her bike. That goes for me, too. This particular group of riders use bikes as a main form of transportation around the city, and we’re not naive—we are well aware of the dangers, even of just leaving your beloved bike locked up in front of a bar while you run inside for a quick pint of Pliny the Younger.

When I asked my cycling cohorts why they had never registered their bikes, the most cited obstacles included “hassle,” “cost,” and the belief that registering a bike “wouldn’t make a difference.”

But I believe SAFE bikes will go a long way to overcome these registration issues. In fact, I’m leading the way––I’ve registered my bike. And it was easy!

Is your bike registered? If so, what program have you registered with? Does it provide you peace of mind?

Also, side note, SAFE has a great graphic showing the best method for locking up your bike. Check it out.


  1. BluesCat

    ALL of my bikes are registered with the National Bike Registry.
    I remember researching home security systems a long time ago, and finding out the very best (and cheapest) home security system was simply a sign in your front yard which said you had one (even if you DIDN’T). Most authorities seem to agree that the presence of a sign causes the bad guys to move along to a less dangerous target.
    So, I registered my bikes with the NBR, because I figured the “tamper-resistant NBR label” that they send to you would work the same way on your bike frame.
    Now, if I can only remember where the heck I put those tamper-resistant NBR labels!

  2. Raiyn

    @ BluesCat
    I use the NBR as well, and my labels are on the bikes ;P
    @ Emily
    All I get when I click those links for the locking graphic is a picture of some chess pieces.
    Here’s the method I subscribe to:

  3. Emily (Post author)

    Raiyn – Looks like the SAFE Bikes site ( is down. Hopefully, it’s just a temporary issue while the program gets up and running this week. I’ll be sure to let you know when the links are working properly. Thanks for sharing your link to a great locking method——it would do the trick for sure!

  4. Emily (Post author)

    @ Raiyn – SAFE Bikes launch is complete! The website is back up and running. Check it out:

  5. Raiyn

    @ Emily
    Not bad at all. Quite good in fact. Better than that garbage Trek tried to foist on us a few years back.

    One nit to pick though: I tend to preach a separate keyed cable lock also secured to the immovable object & frame for the front wheel because it forces your “bad guy” to beat two locks requiring different tools.

  6. Bike Palmer

    This blog encourage me to register my bike to prevent from future misuse as so many bikes are going to steal day by day. I am searching since many days about my bike safety and now I understood how to do that. This blog is quite good in facts of bikes register.

  7. Gabe

    Ok thanks for this, I just registered. I think I’ll also register at the National Bike Registry.

    I’m kind of curious as to if the stickers would deter anyone from steeling the bike though.

  8. Raiyn

    @ Gabe
    Not having any empirical data to work with I can only say that it can’t hurt.

  9. Morgan St. Clair

    Hello, thank you very much for the mention about the new SAFE Bikes program. I have been working on the program on getting funding and planning it for over a year now. I am very happy to have the program launched. We are having an event on March 13th at Twitter. There will be a lock exchange- if you bring in an old lock you will receive a brand new u-lock. Hope you can make it, please RSVP here:
    Thank you,
    Morgan St. Clair
    SAFE Bikes Manager

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *