Keep biking, folks. (Katherine Frey/THE WASHINGTON POST)

Third Police District Cmdr. Jacob Kishter e-mailed Internet discussion groups and concerned citizens this morning to make it clear that his officers are not engaged in random stops of bicyclists to have them “prove ownership” of their bikes, as insinuated by a WRC-TV story.

“If the rider cannot prove ownership, take the bike for safekeeping until they can prove ownership,” a police order said, according to the story.

But Kishter said in his e-mail that the order did not apply to just anyone on the street. “Rest assured we will not be harassing bike riders,” he wrote, saying officers were directed to “pay more attention to our known violent offenders who are committing these cases” where bicycles are used in robberies.

“In fact we made a great robbery arrest last night involving one of our known offenders who was riding a bicycle which he did not own,” Kishter added.

Proving ownership of a bicycle is difficult even for law-abiding riders. The city ditched its widely-flouted registration requirement in 2008, and I know of few cyclists who carry their sales receipt with them as they ride.

Police union chairman Kris Baumann said he’s also heard from officers who said that the policy was directed only toward known suspects, not the general public. And Shane Farthing, president of the Washington Area Bicycle Association, says he’s satisfied after speaking with Kishter about the policy.

“What they were telling me is this is for people who are already suspected of robbery,” he said. “If that’s the case, I don’t know how we have any problem with that.”