Bicycle registration and permits to be mandatory, but free
Bicyclists on campus will soon be required to display a UA parking permit on their bikes, but because of student input last semester, these permits will be free of charge – for now.
“You are going to be required to have a permit, but because of an overwhelming amount of students who didn’t want to pay for it … for right now there won’t be a charge,” said Andy Gilbride, program adviser for the Transit and Parking Department.
The department has yet to receive the new permits, so students won’t see any changes in bicycle parking yet. But once TPD officials have the permits, they’ll begin tagging all bicycles on campus to notify their owners that they need to visit the parking office to register their bikes, Gilbride said.
The purpose of the impending policy is to track bikes on campus and ensure they’re parked in the right areas, he said.
“We want to figure out where the bicycles are and how many there are so we can get more parking, keep them from parking in the wrong spot and keep them from tearing up the landscape,” Gilbride said.
The policy will specify that “bicycles parked in a manner that obstructs handicap access, blocks pedestrian paths or otherwise creates a safety hazard or are secured to trees and landscaping, sign posts, parking meter posts or painted light poles will be immobilized or impounded.”
According to the policy, abandoned bicycles – meaning bikes that are habitually left unsecured, or bikes missing major components like handlebars or pedals – will be impounded for 60 days before disposal.
Last semester, TPD officials considered a policy that would charge students $15 to register their bikes and receive a permit to park them on campus. Many students spoke out against the policy, and more than 1,000 people joined the Facebook group, “U of A Students Against Bicycle Parking Fees On Campus.”
The creator of that group, UA student Jon Bame, said that though he’s pleased the TPD decided not to charge bicycle owners, he still has some concerns – namely, that Fayetteville residents who bike to campus for public events will have their parked bicycles confiscated for not being registered.
“I think that this service has a good intent, but I do think there are still some kinks to work out, and I hope that this policy does not cause any nonstudent visitors to have their bicycles impounded. That’s the most important part to me,” he said.
Though Bame’s not in favor of a fee, he said he’d be open to working with university officials if the TPD decided to charge for bicycle permits in the future.
“I would say that if the university decided to honestly and seriously consult with and work with student bicycle commuters for a fee on this, there would have to be an open dialogue,” he said.
Bame said he thinks there’s a shortage of bike racks on campus, and that’s why students have locked up their bikes in other areas. He also noted that members of his Facebook group have had good ideas for installing more cost-effective bike racks on campus.
“As long as I’m going to be on this campus, I’ll be riding my bike, and as long as I’m doing that, I’m going to be very concerned about this issue and involved as best I can,” he said.