Campus needs more bike parking

By Editorial Board

Even on an early morning in the middle of summer, the bike racks in front of the 33 E. Congress Parkway Building are full. It’s the same scene outside the Wabash Campus Building, 623 S. Wabash Ave., where the long string of racks removed during last year’s construction project has been replaced with only eight U-shaped racks, room for 16 bicycles. Most of the racks on Michigan Avenue are blocked off due to construction,  where students don’t even have the option of locking to a street sign or parking meter.

As the semester starts, bikes will probably be tangled on racks three or four deep, when a rack is only meant for two. Bicycles are legally only supposed to be locked to city property, but private fences will be covered in locked bicycles. And still, students who commute by bike will be left without secure spots to park.

Columbia should be more accommodating toward the impressive number of students who commute to and around campus by bicycle. It is free to request bike racks throughout the city, so why doesn’t Columbia have more of them? It would certainly fit within the school’s progressive environmental objectives to promote two-wheeled transportation, along with protecting it.

According to an annual report produced by Kryptonite, the leading U-lock maker, Chicago is ranked second in the nation for bike theft—a problem that has not skipped over our campus. We have parking lots galore for drivers, but cyclists are left locking to anything they can find, fingers crossed that they won’t come back to a clipped lock or stolen wheel.

Along with providing more bike racks to give students safe, legal places to lock their bikes, Columbia should make an effort to provide security for its bicycle parking spaces.  Although surveillance is probably not a feasible solution, making students aware of the signs of bicycle theft and the safest ways to lock their bicycles could save a few students’ bikes from being stolen.

Throngs of U-shaped racks might not be the most attractive addition to our urban campus, but they are desperately needed. Paint them orange and green, or have design students work together to create unique racks for Columbia. Anything that improves the experience for students who bike to class would be appreciated.