MONTREAL -- For many Montrealers, cycling has been the answer to the COVID-19 era—a quick way to get around that doesn’t involve transit.

Bike shops are selling out. But the increase in biking has also meant an increase in bike theft.

With that, however, is coming a boost in brainstorming about ways to help stop this kind of theft, with new, creative ideas coming from cycling groups and city officials saying they’re listening.

“I’m actually very glad there are more sales of bikes,” Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante said Wednesday.

“I think it will be a great way to enjoy summer. But we also want to make sure people don't get their bikes stolen... maybe we can do more.”

Police already have programs to help people engrave their bikes and have the parts registered with the SPVM in case of eventual theft. 

Montreal police said they were unable to comment when asked for information on bike thefts in the city.

Cycling advocates say that while it’s important to report stolen bikes to police, more needs to be done to register and track bicycles to help get them back to their rightful owners. The engraving alone won’t bring back the bikes.

Vélo Quebec is looking at programs like 529 Garage, which is a database that registers bikes’ serial numbers. It can be a resource that police and used-bike shops can check to see if bicycles are stolen.

That database was founded in 2013 and is North-America-wide, according to its website. It says about 2 million bike owners have their rides stolen every year.

“We really think this is the way forward, and we hope that the City of Montreal is going to have an effective role in getting this rolled out and implemented, because that is what is going to help us,” said Magali Bebronne of Vélo Quebec.

Another idea is to add bike garages within residential neighbourhoods in order to create more secure areas for people to lock up their bikes.

One problem, Brebonne said, is simply that there isn’t much known about crime trends in bike thefts. Her group gets its information from watching online theft reports in community bike groups.

“It seems there are more bikes stolen this year than in this previous years, but it's always hard to have data on it, and this is part of the problem,” said Brebonne.