Better storage facilities for Belfast cyclists urged amid 'epidemic' of bike thefts
There is a "virtual epidemic" of bike thefts, it has been claimed.
Almost 2,000 bikes have been stolen in Belfast in the past three years.
With the average cost of a bike being around £230, this amounts to half-a-million pounds in stolen property.
Regular cyclists are calling for Stormont or Belfast City Council to look into providing secure places for commuters to store their bikes.
Ukip MLA David McNarry uncovered the figures through a Freedom of Information request to the PSNI.
He discovered that 610 bikes were stolen in Belfast during the financial year 2012/13, 626 in 2013/14 and 543 in 2014/15.
"This is a virtual epidemic of theft," he said. "Bicycle theft is a low-risk, high reward crime.
"People can help by having their bike securely marked and registered. They can find and keep details of their bike's frame number which can be found usually between the pedals or where the back wheel joins the frame.
"They should keep the bike register number and take a photograph of the bike.
"They should use two, not just one, high quality locks to secure the bike and they should lock the frame and both wheels to the bike parking stand where they leave their bike.
"People should also check that where they leave their bike is covered by CCTV."
Mr McNarry said bike theft has increased by around 80% since 2000.
"Most bicycle thefts occur in or near the home, the workplace, public places and high risk venues like railway stations and university campuses," he said.
"The average price of a bike is £233 so bicycle theft in Belfast in the past three years must be approaching half-a-million pounds in value."
Alliance MLA Chris Lyttle chairs the Assembly group on cycling and is a keen cyclist himself.
"Thankfully, I have never experienced bike theft myself, my locks seem to work, but the number of bike thefts across the city is obviously a shocking figure," he said.
"I think the Minister of Regional Development and Belfast City Council should be proactively looking at secure bike storage - even if it meant sacrificing a couple of parking spaces here and there to provide the means for cyclists to be able to lock up their bikes securely and be confident to be able to leave them for longer periods of time."
Belfast Green Party councillor Ross Brown uses his bike to commute and echoed the calls for secure storage. He said: "I have heard of a few people who have had their bikes stolen. I would like to see secure and sheltered places for people to lock their bikes."