During the last few weeks, Transportation and Parking Services has created a cyclist upset by confiscating illegally parked bicycles primarily in the Memorial Union and Activities and Recreation Center areas. Notices were left on bicycles to discourage owners from parking in certain areas where no racks are available.
The root of the problem is not that students are breaking the rules of where to park; rather there is an overabundance of unused bicycles on campus that inhibit the places a student can park legally. The majority of bicycles confiscated have been locked to themselves in front of buildings that experience high traffic during school hours. Though a student would understand that parking there is a hazard in the case of an emergency evacuation, students are left with few legal options when they want to park near a building temporarily.
TAPS has recommended for students who frequent the MU to consider parking nearby such as in front of Wellman. However, not all bike parking has been converted to racks on campus. Pod parking does not allow for a cyclist to adequately lock their bike’s frame to a stationary object, which poses a threat to its security. In order for campus cyclists to practice better bicycle parking, the amenities offered to them must be improved. Adding 60 new slots in front of the ARC when 25,000 bikes on average traverse the campus daily will not be that profound of an impact.
In order to improve the situation for both TAPS and campus cyclists, TAPS should make the “sweeping” of unused or abandoned bicycles a more regular practice. When they do this, they can notify the campus by putting notices on the bikes as well as sending a campuswide e-mail. This provides more available parking spots as well as increased courtesy among bicycle owners.
This situation, however, should not be fully considered the fault of TAPS for impounding illegally parked bikes. Students should be more cautious where they park and be considerate of other cyclists. If a student tends to leave his or her bicycle overnight on campus or does not use it frequently throughout the day, he or she might want to leave it locked in an area not as highly used so that there are available spots for others. In terms of parking at the ARC, students should not be reluctant to park a little bit farther away, such as at nearby fields, as they are looking to exercise anyway. The distance is not substantial enough that students should feel the need to park right in front of the ARC entryway when no spots are vacant.