It's the law (OMC 12.60.010) in Oakland that you must register your bicycle every three years. This is how:

The city of Oaklandwebsite instructs you to: "Just take your bicycle to any Oakland fire station, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm, any day of the week. To find a conveniently located fire station, please check the phone book or call (510) 238-3856, TTY 238-3254. Tip: phone the station before taking in your bike. Some stations may not carry bicycle licenses."

However, OMC 12.60.020 states:

"Bicycle license—Issuance.

The Chief of Police is authorized and directed to issue a registration card and a California bicycle license which, when issued, shall entitle the licensee to operate such bicycle for which said license has been issued, upon all streets, exclusive of sidewalks, in the city for the calendar year or portion thereof for which said license is issued."

Recently the Oakland Police Department has been citing people who are riding unregistered bikes. Seriously. 

The Oakland Police Department claims that this will help your bike get returned to you if it is stolen. Here's what they say to do if your bike is stolen:

  • Write down and keep your bicycle's serial number. The serial number is the single most important piece of information to provide to law enforcement. It can help identify your bicycle even if it is transported to another city.
  • Etch your driver's license number (if you have one) into your frame. This can also help police link your bicycle back to you.

Reporting Stolen Bicycles
If your bike is stolen, go to the Oakland Police Department's website and file a Citizen Crime Report. Report your bike's serial number, description (make, model, color, other defining characteristics), and describe the place and time the bicycle was stolen.

You can also file a report by calling the Oakland Police Department's non-emergency number, (510) 777-3333, TTY 238-3254, but they will likely tell you to file it online.

If your bicycle was stolen and recovered by the Oakland Police Department, and if you file a report that includes your serial number, your bicycle will very likely be returned to you.