With warmer weather right around the corner, Long Beach Island police departments are promoting their free bike registration programs. The purpose of the program is to document an owner’s bicycle information in an effort to protect property as well as to assist law enforcement agencies in locating and returning lost, stolen or recovered bicycles to their owners.“We really want people to be aware of it as a tool that’s going to help them if their bike gets lost and help us if we find the bike. We really want to be able to get these things back to their rightful owner,” said Sarah Collins, a patrolwoman at the Surf City Police Department, who has helped revamp the borough of Surf City’s registration program.Residents and visitors are encouraged to obtain a registration form from their town’s police department or website. Upon completion of the form, the information will be added to the police database, and a registration sticker will be issued and affixed to the corresponding bicycle. Individual forms are required for each bike.“As long as the bike is the same, the sticker is good, and we’ll keep it on file until they tell us they got rid of the bike,” said Collins. “Basically, if the bike is found by us, we take it into our possession, and if it has a sticker on it, we’re actually able to locate the owner and make sure that it gets back to them,” she added.The registration also makes it easier for other law enforcement agents or individuals who happen upon the property to contact the correct borough. It works as a visual deterrent for bike theft as well, said Collins.“Sometimes in the summer people’s bikes do go missing. Sometimes people pick them up by accident. Sometimes people just pick them up, and they’ll ride off with them and dump them elsewhere on the Island or down the street," she explained.The registration program is especially helpful during the spring and summer months, when the Island is more densely populated with summer visitors. Bicycle theft is especially high during that time, said Beach Haven Police Chief Kevin Kohler.“We have numerous bikes stolen every summer. We encourage everyone to lock their bikes up, but unfortunately some people don’t, and a lot of people at night would rather ride home instead of walk. It gets crazy down here,” he explained.Bicycle owners are advised to keep their bikes locked up at all times, whether in town or at home, and even if left unattended for just a few minutes.“We really don’t want people to leave their bike unattended because that’s when someone will walk by and pick it up and ride off with it. That’s usually where we see the issues,” Collins explained.It is best to lock a bike to a sturdy, fixed object; beware of “sucker poles” that are loosely bolted down and can be easily removed. Locking the bike through the frame and the wheel is recommended.To prevent the loss of accessories such as lights, baskets and bags, items should be removed when the bike is left alone. Owners are also encouraged to take pictures of their property and to stow away the photos along with a recording of their bike’s identifying information.The Surf City Police Department has developed a form for individuals to document important identifying information specific to their bike, including brand, make, model and serial number. The form is for personal use only and can be found online or picked up at the department, at 813 Long Beach Blvd.
Every person riding a bicycle on a roadway is subject to the same rights and responsibilities as a motor vehicle driver. Bicyclists should obey all traffic signs and signals and ride on the right side of the road with traffic. Front and rear lights, as well as a noisemaker, are also recommended. Wear bright, visible clothing and a helmet. New Jersey state law requires anyone younger than 17 to wear a safety helmet when riding a bike, even as a passenger. Courtesy Of— Kelley Anne Essingerkelleyanne@thesandpaper.net