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New plan to help curb bicycle theft in Brussels
Last year, nearly 4,500 stolen bicycles were reported in the Brussels region. That’s one-third more than five years ago.
Because most people don’t report a stolen bicycle, the actual number of thefts is expected to be three times as many – somewhere between 12,000 and 15,000 – according to the cycling organisation Pro Velo and the mobility cabinet.
Mobility minister Elke Van den Brandt wants to cut these numbers in half by 2030 and has launched a new programme to help prevent bicycle theft. “Many residents in Brussels want to start using a bike but don’t because they don’t have a safe place to put it,” she said. “That’s a real shame because cycling is not only healthy, it cuts down on traffic jams and improves air quality.”
While the increase in thefts over the last five years partly has to do with more people cycling – hence more bicycles to steal – it isn’t good news to Van den Brandt, who already launched an anti-bike theft campaign in 2016. The thefts, however, appear to have kept up with the number of people cycling.
Improving victim experience
The new plan emphasises police enforcement, with each police zone required to dedicate at least one officer to bicycle theft by 2023. These officers will work with the Brussels Prevention and Security agency to better keep up with online sites where bikes are sold to monitor for stolen bikes. Together with a more efficient and simpler way to report a stolen bicycle, this should convince more victims to report thefts.
The minister also plans to create more safe cycle parking, particularly in and around metro and train stations and commuter parking areas. And she would like to explore whether the bicycle registration site mybike.brussels could start a system whereby anyone whose bike is stolen can buy get assistance buying a new one.
The plan also includes future campaigns on safe cycle parking and good locks. To that end, Pro Velo has a great deal of advice on where and how best to lock up a bicycle.
“This plan against bicycle theft will tackle the problem on a number of fronts: infrastructure, enforcement, evaluation, engagement and awareness campaigns,” she said. “Ramping up the effort to reduce bicycle theft will get more people to start – and continue – to cycle.”
Photo courtesy City of Schaerbeek