Mandatory bicycle marking, an effective measure against theft?

Mandatory bicycle marking, an effective measure against theft?

Violet Field inPlanetJan 6, 2021 6 min read0 views

Since January 1, new bicycles must bear a unique identification number, an obligation which will be extended to used bicycles sold by professionals on July 1. The measure

A cyclist passes in the rue de Rivoli, July 30, 2020. - Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP
  • LOM (Mobility Orientation Law), all new bicycles sold in stores must now carry a unique identification number to which the owner's contact details will be attached.
  • The measure, viewed favorably by user associations as well as by the Union sport et cycle, will already make it possible to return to their owners a greater part of the approximately 100,000 stolen bikes found each year in France.
  • It also aims to pull the rug out from under the traffickers' feet by making resale on the second-hand market more complicated. But for this to work, it will not only be necessary to mark new bikes ...


The new reduction in the housing tax, the minimum wage increased by 0.99%, homeopathy no longer supported by Health Insurance, border controls between France and the United Kingdom restored… In the list of What changes in this year 2021, we should add the marking of bikes. All new bicycles sold in stores must now have a “unique identifier” - a ten-digit alphanumeric code - to which the owner's contact details will be attached.

Until now, this practice was already possible but left to the goodwill of the owners. The mobility orientation law (LOM) of December 24, 2019, provided for making it mandatory. It has been in effect since January 1, "with a tolerance period in the first quarter of 2021, the time for all the players to comply with the law, the regulatory text having been published on December 28", specifies Patrick Guinard, administrator of the Union sport et cycle, which brings together bicycle brands and points of sale, but also president of the Association for the promotion and identification of cycles (Apic).

Between 300,000 and 400,000 bikes stolen per year

The latter will be responsible for keeping the national file of these “marked” bikes up to date. Label, engraving, or chemical process… The technique for affixing this number is left free. "The decree simply specifies that it must be read without difficulty on a stationary cycle and that the affixing process must guarantee the permanence of this one and its inalterability, except in the event of voluntary degradation", explains Patrick Guinard.

What to cool thieves? The stated goal is in any case to tackle one of the brakes on cycling in France. “Before, people were especially afraid of cycling, begins Olivier Schneider, president of the Federation of bicycle users (FUB). Now that communities are investing in improvements to make journeys safer, what is increasingly dissuading from buying a bicycle is the fear of getting stung, quite simply. "More than 318,000 bicycles were stolen in 2018, according to the investigation report " living environment and security "of the Ministry of the Interior," a figure that is known to fall short of reality, a good number of victims not bearing no complaint, ”says Olivier Schneider.

Returning bicycles, complicating the resale of stolen bicycles

This unique identification number will not prevent thefts, nor will they allow the perpetrators to be tracked. The hope is that it will bring smiles back to owners of stolen bicycles and unclog police stations. “That's the whole problem today, points out Olivier Schneider. Of the 300,000 to 400,000 bicycles stolen each year, 100,000 are found, but only a handful, barely 7,000, can be returned to their owners because they are identifiable. " The rest? “They pile up for a while in the police stations before ending up very often in the landfill,” says Patrick Guinard.

Having a chance to find your bike is not the only expected benefit. "With this identification number, the idea is also to pull the rug out from under the feet of traffickers by limiting the resale capacity", anticipates Jean-Sébastien Catier, president of Paris en Selle, an association promoting cycling in the Parisian agglomeration. A large part of their booty is now sold on the second-hand market, via more or less informal circuits. Typically on the leboncoin.fr site. A market that should become even more important in the months to come, when "many French people are looking to acquire bicycles and there are few stocks of new bicycles in the shops", continues Jean-Sébastien Catier. The identification number can then serve as a benchmark for a buyer concerned with avoiding concealment. "He will already be able to verify that the number is correctly linked to the person selling the bicycle," begins Patrick Guinard. Above all, the number must be difficult enough to remove that any attempt will leave traces and make the transaction shady. "

"Create a collective reflex as quickly as possible"

Marking of bicycles has limits. It should only slightly interfere with international traffic, in which bicycles stolen in France are shipped abroad as quickly as possible. “Moreover, if we mark only new bicycles, only a tiny fraction of the 26 million bicycles in the French fleet will be identified,” fears Olivier Schneider. The decree provides that the identification obligation is extended to second-hand bicycles sold by professionals from July 1. This leaves aside transactions between individuals. “We will have to create a collective reflex as quickly as possible,” pushes the president of the FUB. That is, buyers always demand that the bike be marked, even if the seller is an individual, and that owners have their bikes marked on their own initiative. "

The system could then be a good complement to GPS trackers. These equip a growing number of bicycles and allow it to be tracked if it has been stolen. It is one of these tools that had allowed, in mid-December, a Strasbourg city councilor to find his electric bike stolen six months earlier in the Paris region. "These trackers are set to develop," said Patrick Guinard, who still points to their still significant price [between 100 and 400 euros] as the current brake. “Moreover, the more bikes are equipped, the more skillful thieves will become to outsmart them, especially if only a handful of models dominate the market,” adds Olivier Schneider.

Don't forget the secure parking

This is why the development of secure car parks, a measure which acts at the source against theft, is no less necessary, we insist both at the FUB and in Paris in the saddle. “There is, in particular, a big deficit in the stations, points out the president of the FUB. It is also very complicated to park your bike in the old building. And in the new, although secure parking for bicycles is mandatory there, the rules are not always followed by real estate developers. However, it is more and more a determining criterion in the choice of an apartment. "