Brick Lane is a good bet, scouring the streets you might be lucky, but searching online is fast becoming the best way to hunt for a stolen bike.
This was confirmed by the Metropolitan Police in October, who in lieu of an official investigation, suggested I go to Gumtree to track down my bike.
After endless hours trailing through ads, the co-ordinator for Islington Cycle Action Group, Alison Dines, directed me to Bikeshd. Launched by web-designer Lars back in February, the site creates a photo montage of bikes on sale in London, fed in from Gumtree, eBay and Craigslist.
He launched the site as a response to his own experiences of bike theft in the city: “My own bike was stolen twice, and a friend in my office had his bike stolen as well. He was checking for it every day on Gumtree and got really frustrated with it, so I just wrote Bikeshd.”
By banishing text, Bikeshd puts an end to the long process of clicking on each ad on each individual site to view a decent sized photo. “I spent loads of time on the design because I wanted something that explains itself,” he says.
Lars constructed an ‘ignore list’ so that the site isn’t cluttered with regular sellers of new bikes, although he is clear to point out that Bikeshd features photos of every other bike for sale online, including legitimate sellers. This has prompted some hate-mail from people who feel accused of selling stolen bikes. These few however overlook the reality that users visit Bikeshd to look for their own property, and show little interest in the hundreds of other bikes which are filtered through the site.
Despite some negative feedback, Lars smiles as he recounts the success stories: “It’s really nice to get the occasional e-mail from someone who got their bike; they’re so happy. As long as it helped even 20 people get their bikes back, then that’s cool.”
People have in the past contacted the seller and arranged to pick up the bike, before letting the police step in and arrest the thief. Others have taken their bikes for a ‘test ride’ and never looked back.
With around 200 unique visitors a day, and around 2000 bikes featured each week, Lars is keen to “add more value to it and push it a little bit further.”
“There’s a lot of potential for figuring out hot spots of where bikes are stolen from, because a Gumtree map normally comes with a Google map of where you can pick up a bike,” he explains. Believing that a bike is only sold around ten minutes away from where it was originally stolen, Lars is potentially able to map the available data and highlight key risk areas.
He is also thinking about building a language analyser, which could pick up suspect adverts and channel only these to the site, so that Bikeshd could begin to focus solely on stolen bikes. It seems remarkable that organisations such as Gumtree and eBay have not yet developed such programmes, but Lars has fewer restrictions: “I’m just a one man team, and they are big, but they are slow. I can just hack up things at home.”
Bikeshd may be part of the battle against bike theft, but is by no means fighting directly against these big marketplaces; Lars closes the site between 3am and 8am, “to give eBay, Craigslist and Gumtree a little bit of space.”
He admits that he still hasn’t got over the theft of his last bike, and runs Bikeshd as “a hero thing” to help out other victims; “It’s such a passionate thing, it hits a nerve, I can see people checking Bikeshd all day!”
Interview from: http://goodbyejacque.com
Some Bikeshd statistics can be found on http://www.daytum.com/bikeshdlondon
Like Bikeshd, just with pets! I’ll be using this as a development / testing platform but also found its quite a laugh browsing through the animals. Most of the pictures are real cute because its mostly newly born animals beeing sold. » www.petshd.co.uk
This is so heartbreaking to me that I can’t even think straight. The police are trying to close Plastic People down.
Rally the troops; I’m down for whatever.
Join the Keep Plastic People Alive Facebook group for updates.
(Photo: Vent Fury)
~ This is a naughty repost from joseyrebelle, just because i don’t have the time to write one myself atm and she just nailed it, thx!
I wrote a tool / resource for bike people that are looking for a bike in London and just want to quickly check whats going on.
Its quick, easy to use and alive now! Whey! Come click and bookmark it!
This sundae happened to be the London Thames festival, so we headed down to Southbank with some bags of freshly acquired cans and let them free ~ because the world is changing and so we. All cred to Layer1!
Good move, i dragged my fisheye along to capture the moment.