Today we officially launched the Portland Bike Theft Task Force.
It’s been quite a journey to get to this point…
Regular BikePortlanders know we’ve been documenting this city’s bike theft problem for almost 10 years. Who remembers our May 2005 story, Bike theft: What should we do about it? Yes, we’ve been frustrated by this issue for nearly a decade now.
That’s why today felt so good. We actually took another big step toward doing something about it.
Back in October, following a meeting with Mayor Charlie Hales and Portland Police Bureau Chief Larry O’Dea, we decided enough is enough and began a concerted effort to raise the profile of the issue using the most powerful tool I could think of: this blog.
We started publishing the Bike Theft Chronicles to highlight the absurd, helpless, brazen, tragic, and outrageous stories we hear on almost a weekly basis. After meeting a Portland Police Bureau office who was just as frustrated as we were, we declared battle against bike theft.
Then we went offline and hosted a community summit that brought everyone to the table. That summit helped cement our partnership with the Police Bureau and ultimately led to creation of the Bike Theft Task Force.
At the press conference today, I stood on the steps of City Hall, feeling very proud to be a part of this effort, while I listened to Chief O’Dea say the following words (emphases mine):
come up with a plan that will reduce
reported bike thefts by 50% in 5 years.”
PPB Chief Larry O’Dea.
(Photo: Portland Police Bureau)
“The level of frustration around this issue is at an all-time high. We’re hearing from the community and from our officers on the street that thieves are becoming more brazen by the day. City-issued bicycle racks have been sawed through with power tools and people are having bicycles taken right off their car racks and porches.
This cannot continue. Portland is a cycling city. Thousands of people depend on their bicycles every single day to get them to work, the store, school, and so on.
Today is the day we as a community get organized to address this problem head-on.
On that note, I am issuing a challenge: I am challenging the community to come up with a plan that will reduce reported bike thefts by 50% in 5 years.”
Here’s another excerpt from O’Dea’s remarks that are important to me:
“While the bureau will host the Task Force, I want to make it clear that this has been community-driven effort from the start and it will continue to be an equal partnership with the public.”
This isn’t the PPB’s task force. It’s our task force.
As for the challenge, standing on the steps with me today was an impressive show of force that gives me confidence we can meet it: Assistant Chief Bob Day, PPB Commander Sara Westbrook, Sgt. Mike Leasure, and Officers David Sanders and David Bryant from Central Precinct, PBOT Director Leah Treat, Danielle Booth from PBOT’s Active Transportation Division, Project 529 CEO J Allard, BikeIndex.org’s Co-owner Bryan Hance, and others.
The Core Team of the task force includes myself, Sanders, Bryant, Booth, Allard, and Hance. In the next month we will develop a plan to give us a clear strategy to tackle bike theft in Portland from all the angles. Broadly speaking, our effort will focus on prevention, enforcement, education, and collaboration. Don’t be fooled by today’s media coverage, our effort goes way beyond just another city website with a bunch of how-tos and tips. We have some awesome things up our sleeves and we can’t wait to work on them with you.
And I mean you.
As the Chief said, this is a community challenge and this is not your typical bureaucratic task force (I wouldn’t be on it if it was). Working with volunteers (like you!) who want to help fight bike theft is one of our top priorities.
Thank you to everyone who has helped us reach this point. I’ve spent nearly 10 years documenting this problem and I’m really looking forward to documenting the solutions.
Feel free to ask me questions in the comments. And stay tuned!
— For more on today’s press conference, check out all the local media coverage, photos from the PPB, a statement from Mayor Hales, the new Bike Theft Task Force page on the PPB website, and PBOT’s new page full of resources at tips at EndBikeTheft.org.