Student cyclists are peddling into problems with Parking Services.
An increase in the number of cyclists on campus has recently been met with an increase in the number of bicycle parking citations.
Two weeks ago, junior Josh Keffer walked out of one of his classes in McBryde Hall to find a warning on on bike, indicating he had illegally parked his bike.
“I was surprised,” Keffer said. “There were no signs. I guess that’s the only way you’d know — a big orange sticker.”
Debby Freed, Virginia Tech’s alternative transportation manager, has been trying for years to establish bike planning as part of the budget.
“With the number of folks who are now cycling to campus, we don’t have the infrastructure in place for everybody to have their own bike rack,” Freed said.
One standard bike rack with five metal loops costs about $500 if cement is already in place. If cement is needed in the area where the bike rack will be, it spikes the cost of the new rack by an additional $500.
“What we try to look at (is) if there is a consistent, sustained demand for more bike racks,” said Steve Mouras, director of transportation and campus services. “What we don’t want is a knee-jerk reaction.”
From year to year, certain classes have more cyclists than others for various reasons. Weather also plays a major role in the demand for bike racks. During cooler winter months, bicycle parking is rarely a problem.
“Just because we want to promote bicycle use doesn’t mean that we want to promote indiscriminate bicycle use,” Mouras said.
Bicycle citations are issued if parked bikes create a hazard, or potential hazard, such as impeding movement, or are parked illegally despite available rack space.
Mouras said the bikes can get in the way of landscaping and maintenence.
“The purpose (of issuing more bike citations) is not to generate money,” Mouras said. “The purpose is to change behavior.”
Mouras compares bicycle parking to car parking. He said he has heard people complain there are not enough spaces, but he said there are always some vacant spots, even on game days.
“They just aren’t convenient,” he said.
The Collegiate Times noted that outside of McBryde Hall, around 2:30 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, there were 13 bicycles parked illegally and 24 parked legally, filling up the available racks. However, nearby racks outside of Torgeson Hall had 17 legal bike spaces available.
Junior Kay Comer said she was unaware that her bike, which was chained to a pole outside McBryde, was illegally parked.
“The racks were clogged,” she said.
Many students remain unaware they need to register their bikes with Parking Services and that bikes can only be parked at racks.
He said warnings were a way to communicate the requirements.
The university is also taking steps to alleviate crowding at the bike racks. The Bike Bus Walk program, formerly free, now charges $15 per semester. Money earned through the program will go toward purchasing bike racks.
In the program, students agree to travel to campus using alternative transportation methods and receive up to 15 parking passes. The price of a daily parking pass is still half the price of what it would be otherwise when students sign up with the program.
The Student Government Association is also trying to bring more bike racks to campus.
Aaron Maertins, SGA Director of Transportation, said the idea is in the planning stages and will soon be debated by the legislative bodies. The target date for purchasing would not be until spring semester.
Bicycles can be registered with Parking Services for no charge. A bicycle parking citation, however, will typically set the cyclist back $25.