by Lauren Daley
Cycling advocacy group BikePGH launched the I <3 My Bike program with the hopes of making it easier to find stolen bikes by taking photos of owners with their rides, as well as the bike's identifying information and serial numbers for a private database.
And so far, it's working.
On Thurs., June 13, BikePGH posted on its Facebook page that Harmony Venturino's bike was stolen. The post on Facebook quickly was shared around the community, reaching more than 5,500 people. And within the hour, according to BikePGH, a person in the community found Venturino's lavender Schwinn Sprint.
"As we all understand my bike is more than just something to do to pass time. I fell in love with it and was becoming a good cyclist," Venturino said in a press release distributed by BikePGH. "My bike is unique just like I am, and I was so happy to find that it was found."
Rebecca Susman, Membership & Outreach Manager for BikePGH, said the bike was stolen from Oakland and recovered in Wilkinsburg. The thief had ditched the bike, and the community member saw the posting online. BikePGH connected the pair, and Venturino got her bike back.
Susman started the program after hearing about something similar at a conference a few years ago. And she knows from personal experience hAnd while BikePGH members had an informal way of reporting stolen or lost bikes on its message board, the database offers additional information such as make, model, serial number and other identifying characteristics.
"We had a fairly good track record of the community finding bikes," Susman tells City Paper. "But we wanted a more concrete way of finding them."
Since launching the program, Susman says almost 500 bikes are in the private database.
"We're really excited by the response," she says.
Cyclists can have their photos taken with their bikes at The Three Rivers Arts festival, and the photos will be posted to Flickr.