Scientists have solved the mystery of the disappearance of bicycles in Amsterdam

Amsterdam, Photo: Drahoslav Ramik PAP/CTK

There are about 850 thousand people in the capital of the Netherlands. bikes. Almost 30,000 of them are stolen each year. What’s going on with them? Is it sold abroad, taken apart for parts, or does it end up at the bottom of the sewer? American scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) decided to check this in collaboration with Dutch researchers from Delft University of Technology. The result of their experiment was surprising. It turns out that most of the bikes stolen in Amsterdam are bought by the townspeople themselves.

The city, where almost every resident owns a bike, seems like an ideal place for two-wheeled thieves. in fact, It’s a real disaster in Amsterdam. According to official statistics, about 11 thousand cars are stolen there every year. bicycles, but since not everyone reports such crime, the actual scale of this phenomenon is much higher. According to the estimates of the city authorities, about 28.5 thousand people die every year. bicycles, and according to organizations associated with cyclists – up to about 80 thousand. annually. With this volume of practice, the police are powerless – they are unable to determine what happens to the missing bikes.

The researchers outfitted 100 used bicycles with tiny tracking devices

The solution to this riddle was entrusted to scientists. Engineers from MIT and Delft University of Technology in collaboration with the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Urban Solutions They equipped 100 used bikes with mini trackers and rode them in different parts of the city. Then, for half a year, they watched what and when would happen to these bikes. During this period, 70 of these bikes were stolen. This is higher than the estimated average in Amsterdam, possibly because they were all in public.

Based on observing the locators, the researchers made a map of bicycle traffic. It turned out that out of the 70 stolen, as many as 68 remained in Amsterdam and the surrounding area. Some of them had been near used bike shops for a long time, so the researchers concluded that they may have been sold there. Some have gone to places known to sell bikes illegally. Although the experiment did not provide an answer to the question of the fate of each bike, nor did it serve to track down thieves, the researchers felt it did provide valuable information about the nature of the problem. It turns out that the vast majority of stolen bikes are still in the same area. Perhaps a large amount is resold and therefore circulated in the collection of bicycles that move around Amsterdam, changing owners from time to time.

“The most surprising thing is that this practice occurs locally.”

The experiment’s authors were stunned by this finding. It is suspected that most of the stolen bikes were sold abroad. No one expected this trade to flourish in Amsterdam. “The most amazing thing is that it happens locally. The stolen bike is being sold and used by the new owner in the same area, and may have no idea it was stolen. “There are so many bikes in Amsterdam you’ll likely never come across,” said MIT’s Fabio Duarte, co-author of a paper published in Plos One detailing the Amsterdam experience.

This discovery, made by scientists, also surprised city officials who dealt with the fight against bike theft. “Every year, bicycles are stolen from tens of thousands of Amsterdammers. It is clear from this research that some of these thefts are organized,” said Melanie van der Horst, Amsterdam’s deputy mayor in charge of transport. However, it did not reveal how the city would use the discovery. (PAP life)

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