In an unusual move to combat rampant bicycle theft, Chinese capital Beijing on Friday launched real- name registration for buyers to create a database of owners.
Beijing's public security bureau said citizens can choose to leave their names and other personal information at bike stores, which will hand over the information to be compiled into a police database.
The new rule is voluntary in nature, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. An official with the bureau said the move is meant to address a lack of ownership information, a major problem for police in cracking theft cases and returning stolen bikes.
Bike theft is rampant in Beijing, which in the past was known as the 'bicycle capital' as millions commuted the city, while China was once known as the "kingdom of bicycles". Photos from the 1980s show Chinese roads crowded with people cycling as their main mode of transport.
Three decades on, private car ownership has skyrocketed, especially in Beijing. According to the Beijing Transport Research Centre, the number of cyclists in Beijing has plummeted. In 1986, bicycles made up 63 per cent of transport on the roads. Last year, they accounted for just 15 per cent.
The cycle thefts in Beijing and other Chinese cities, is because of a booming underground market for stolen bikes, the report said.
Beijing police say they nabbed 2,300 suspects between January and November 2015 in a crackdown on bike theft.