Yesterday, Brussels centre had the opportunity to have your bike engraved with your citizenship number. It is a decent measure to add security to your bike, a hope that it may be returned to you, should it ever get stolen.
They do this across Belgium. Your identity number is permanently etched into your bike with some kind of handheld device that does all the hard work. I have been intending to do it for the past decade, but there have been issues of, one, getting gthe damned identity number (a nightmare); having the card with me at the time; and the length of queues on available days.
Yesterday was a success for me, finally. The city had a stall placed at the Bourse, in the centre of the city, where they had recently installed a pedestrian zone. The queue was so small, local police officers, on bikes, were there stopping cyclists (politely) and asking them if they had their bike tattooed and suggesting they stand in a small line to get it done.
Usually this is a big event on the Day Without Cars, held in mid-September in Brussels. The idea is so good, there is always an insane queue. I always opt to ride my bike, instead.
But now my bike is tattooed. It has been placed to a bike register. Should the bike be stolen and recovered by police, suh as after a joy ride and the bike abandoned, then I should get a call and the bike returned. It also means, if I see my stolen bike on the road, I have rather solid proof the bike is mine.
It is far from foolproof. I doubt it stops many a thief from taking a bike. Afterall, the tattoo can be covered simply enough with a sticker or piece of tape. But it does give me some hope. And it shows some concern from authorities to help cyclists stay the rightful owners of their steeds. Add a decent lock and some care and caution to kep the chime visible helps. And this is a city where I like to think people would interrupt someone with a saw trying to hack into a bike… but that may be naive.