Like most students, Julie Woodworth has difficulty finding an open bike parking space in front of the Activities and Recreation Center. Rather than scour the bike racks for an empty space, she said she typically just leaves her bike on the ARC’s front patio area, with its tire locked to the frame.
“Usually all the racks are full, and I don’t really care,” she said.
But since Transportation and Parking Services began citing illegally parked bikes last week, Woodworth’s habits – and those of other nonchalant cyclists – may have to change.
The more stringent enforcement efforts began last week, when TAPS responded to requests from the Memorial Union and ARC to clear paths and patios of illegally parked bikes.
“There are as many as 25,000 bikes on this campus on any given weekday. With that many bikes on campus, people can’t just park wherever they want to park,” said UC Davis TAPS Bicycle Coordinator David Takemoto-Weerts.
As a result of increasing numbers of illegally parked bikes on the north and south Memorial Union patios, signs have been posted warning cyclists to park in designated parking areas.
MU Assistant Director of Operations Jon Feden said illegally parked bikes pose a threat to safety in the event that the building needs to be evacuated. There has been a large increase in the number of illegally parked bikes around the MU this year, he said.
“We had a number of complaints from users of the buildings,” Feden said.
At the ARC, patrons who discover full bike racks “park wherever they want to park,” Takemoto-Weerts said.
TAPS has begun parking enforcement during peak usage hours at the ARC, where bikes tend to be left in the patio area or illegally locked to benches or lamp poles, Takemoto-Weerts said.
“There’s been some real problems with bikes encroaching onto the path or if they’re not parked to a bike rack, at some point they get knocked over,” he said.
Though students complain there aren’t enough bike racks in front of the ARC, Takemoto-Weerts said there are other nearby areas to park bikes, such as by the baseball field.
Bikes that are locked to themselves close to or inside the bike racks may be in the clear, “as long as you don’t prevent someone from getting their bike out,” Takemoto-Weerts said.
TAPS has placed warning notices on illegally parked bikes urging cyclists to park in legal spaces. Woodworth received one such warning notice last week.
“They said the next time, they’d impound the bikes,” she said. “I guess it’s a safety hazard or fire hazard, [but] I don’t see how it matters if there’s bikes parked to the side,” she said.
If a bike is impounded, TAPS sends a notice to the registered owner and charges a $10 parking fine. Owners of unregistered bikes that have disappeared can call TAPS to see if their bike has been impounded.
Parking availability at the ARC may improve next school year, as TAPS has identified space that would accommodate approximately 60 more bikes, Takemoto-Weerts said. Still, space by the front entrance is limited, as ARC officials are opposed to having bike racks in the plaza, he said.
However, the cost of bike racks and lack of available funds makes keeping pace with the growing bike population at UC Davis difficult, Takemoto-Weerts said. Cyclists may just have to walk a little further to their destination, he said.
“When people run out of bike parking space at the actual destination they want to go to, typically it’s just a few yards more walking,” he said.
For example, people who wish to go to the ASUCD Coffee House can park at Wellman Hall or Wickson Hall, Takemoto-Weerts said.
Students leaving Davis in June should think twice before leaving their bikes on campus over the summer, Takemoto-Weerts said.
“There’s a good chance it’ll get impounded at the end of the summer,” he said.
Students can store their bikes with TAPS over the summer for a fee of $8. If they leave their bikes parked in front of residence halls, they will be charged a storage fee, parking fine, and another $75 fee from Student Housing, Takemoto-Weerts said.
For more bicycle laws and other related information, visit taps.ucdavis.edu.
PATRICK McCARTNEY can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.XXX