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Campus News

The Tangled Chain of Bike Storage Protocol

by Zazie Tobey, staff writer

I was sent in circles around campus, dumbfounded by the intensity of my search to locate information on the bike storage protocol on campus. Bike storage is a crucial issue on campus; this summer a copious amount of bikes were stolen or went missing when they were stored with proper tags in designated locations. I assumed that clarifying the bike storage situation would be a fairly simple task, but by the time I had been referred back to where I started, I recognized the lack of unity within this complex issue. Starting at what I believed to be the source of information on bike storage and the summer bicycle disappearances, I went to the Public Safety office.

Public Safety claims that if bikes are not on racks or sitting outside of the summer Housing in the village, they will be confiscated by Locksmith crew and stored on campus for the remainder of the summer. They also told me what minimal information they knew about the red bike stickers they have had since spring semester, but did not mention the green storage tags that housing distributed spring semester for summer storage. The red stickers include a number, increasing the ease of matching bike owners to their numbers, while also making a more permanent label than the previous green paper tags, which were attached by a twist tie. It is unclear which tag has greater authority and if students need to have both for storage purposes.

Public Safety advises students to lock bikes and fill out insurance information corresponding with the tag, so if a bike is stolen they can work with the Sheriff’s office to recover it from pawnshops or other buyer outlets in the area. Public Safety sent me on my way ensuring me that I would learn more from Locksmith, the crew working most closely with bike storage issues.

I learned that Locksmith started collecting bikes because they were the only crew with bolt cutters strong enough to cut bike locks, and they have been dealing with the task ever since. Locksmith collects all untagged and improperly stored bikes and brings them to Recycling if they are unclaimed after a certain amount of time or have no tags at all. It is unclear how long the bikes are kept on campus before being dropped off at Recycling.

Locksmith crew sent out an e-mail to all students May 23 informing students where to store bikes, but the semester had ended almost two weeks prior, on May 10.

“Bikes that are left outside of dorms (except the Villages and Dorland) are going to be removed, this includes untagged bikes in dorm bike storage,” the e-mail said.

Locksmith is a busy crew and told me bike tasks were delegated to them from the Housing office. I marched up the hill to Dodge House, hopeful that I could set straight the tangled web of information now filling my notebook. At Housing I was directed to Joyce Milling, the Director of Resident Life.

In an e-mail sent out by Milling in the beginning of May, a weak distinction was made between storage tags given out by RDs and the red stickers from Public Safety.

“If you are a student/faculty/staff working over the summer and will have your bike in a bike rack on campus, you will need to have your bike tagged,” Milling wrote in her e-mails to the campus.

It was unclear which tags suffice as proper bike identification tags for summer storage purposes and which bike racks are proper storage areas. This created much confusion around outdoor bike storage policy.

A student who wishes to remain anonymous was leaving Wilson for the summer and was forced to leave his bike without a tag because public safety was nowhere to be found and none of the RAs had tags to distribute. Two weeks later the student returned on a work contract to live in the Village summer housing and their bike had already been confiscated and disposed of before the student could reclaim it. According to Milling’s e-mail, the student should have been able to reclaim his bike two weeks after the end of school.

“Locksmith crew will pick up your bike, starting on May 16th and hold it in storage for 30 days before discarding of it,” said Milling’s e-mail.

One source sent me to the next, the different information spinning me in circles in search of someone who knew the protocol. Bikes are expensive and are the only form of transportation for some students. A consistent and proper procedure needs to be developed so that bikes left on campus during breaks do not go missing when they are not supposed to.

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