Bikenapped is an online platform that allows bike theft victims to tag thefts on a map with details of the incident. Also using incident reports collected from public police logs, the map generates an overview of the scope of the bike theft problem and how it affects our cities. Users are also asked to post a Bikenapped flyer at the actual place of the theft to help raise awareness for the issue.
Bikenapped is an online platform aimed at raising awareness and mapping bike thefts. It is currently piloting in Boston. For the public, Bikenapped serves as a place to get a clearer picture of the bike theft problem, as well as a community to share experiences with others. By offering a way for theft victims to speak out, we can learn from our collective experience and help find solutions together. The collected data and narratives provide invaluable insight into theft patterns and behaviors, as well as showcase the immaterial value of cycling in the city.
According to the reports from the Department of Justice, for every bike theft that is reported to the police, 4 or more thefts may have occurred. This severe underreporting prohibits us from seeing the full scope of the problem and from allocating adequate resources to tackle it. Bikenapped asks the community to participate in a user-generated mapping of theft incidents, to share information with our neighbors and our city.
Raising awareness and disseminating information is crucial in addressing bike thefts. We seek to take the data beyond the digital realm and into the real urban environment we live in. Bikenapped asks users to post flyers at the physical place of the theft to warn others of what had happened. The information is not just relevant on the internet, it is more relevant to all the people who use the spaces where these thefts happen.
Change happens when we empower everyone to act. While bike theft is something most people experience alone, Bikenapped seeks to connect us with our neighbors and community. If we discover other people had their bikes stolen from the same place as ours, perhaps we can join together to demand for better safety measures in our neighborhood. If law enforcement is aware of certain zones of bike thefts, perhaps they are better equipped to police the area. If we know bikes have been stolen from a particular place, perhaps we will all be more vigilant to keep our neighborhoods safe from bike theft.
Bikenapped is a platform to not merely disseminate information, but also encourage participation. Bike thefts suffer from severe underreporting due to the common perception that nothing will come from a police report. Though the rates of recovery are surely low – and Bikenapped makes no claims at increasing the chances of recovery – a report on Bikenapped is something theft victims can see. It is visible on the map, and visible to every person who comes to visit it. A piece of information or an experience where a victim had once suffered alone, is now directly and visibly a contribution to a larger story and effort.
The reaction to Bikenapped has been extremely positive. As different media outlets and cycling blogs began to pick up the story, reports and emails started coming in. We had over 2500 unique visitors within the first 12 days, many from beyond the borders of Boston/Cambridge, all the way from California and internationally. The issue surely struck a cord with people, and the support and response that Bikenapped received validated the need for its existence.