Bikes left on campus for the summer won’t stay here

By Kyle Coombs

Bike owners leaving for the summer should keep in mind that Macalester Security cuts the locks on all bikes left on campus and donates them to an organization based in Wisconsin. “There’s usually 100 bikes left on campus,” said Terry Gorman, Director of Environmental Health, Safety and Security. “Many of them are in sad shape. Students leave old and rusty bikes that haven’t been ridden in months.” Gorman said that without this policy, bikes would fill up campus bike racks and take away space for future bikes. In general, the policy clears out abandoned and forgotten bikes, although occasionally students report that their bikes have been taken. “We have had people come back and say we took their bike,” Gorman said, “But the vast majority [of students] move their bikes and we get the ones that haven’t been moved.” The bikes are donated to a nonprofit that uses them in a bike repair training program in Wisconsin. The repaired bikes are then shipped to Africa and South America for doctors and nurses to use. Those rusted beyond repair are scrapped and recycled. “We don’t sell them here because people come back and could say, ‘Hey that’s my bike’ to someone in the area,” he said. “[Donating] is the cleanest way to deal with them.” Gorman said that the Safety and Security Offices tries to alert students of the policy before they leave campus at the end of the semester. The message is put in the Daily Piper three to four times before students leave, and students are told in floor meetings before the end of the year. Co-chair of Mac Bikes David Husson ’14 said he thought Safety and Security could improve communication of this policy to students. But he said he understands the policy since the campus does not have enough bike racks to support every bike that is locked up on campus. “They should make it a little clearer,” he said. “[But] at a certain point, I’m assuming [the policy] is necessary,” he said. “Eventually it will get really crowded.” Husson advised against leaving a bike in any place for the entire summer, as bikes tend to be stolen or experience weather damage if they are left in one spot for so long, he explained. “Bottom line, it is not a good idea to leave your bike in one place for that long,” Hussan said. Husson said that Mac Bike would like to allow students to keep their bikes in their workshop over the summer but does not have the capacity. With additional funds a program might be possible, he said, but he doubts these funds will appear anytime soon. “I hardly think anyone will pay out, after the bike infrastructure got voted down in the rollover,” Husson said. Gorman said security officers do not collect bikes until about two weeks after students have left campus. The day before they go out, a post on the Daily Piper alerts students to either move their bikes or put a note on their bike saying not to move it. Then they take the bikes and store them in a basement until they are picked up for donation in midsummer. “We store them for a month or so and students can call and identify their bike [before it is donated],” Gorman said. He added that security officers make a judgment call on the quality of a bike. If a bike is clearly well taken care of and/or expensive, Security will keep it. “If I see a nice, bright, shiny bike, [that means] this is somebody who takes care of it,” Gorman said. “Most of the bikes we donate were locked up last September and abandoned. The seat is missing, it’s rusted, it has flat tires or one of the wheels is missing.” Husson said it can be relatively cheap to take a bike home.

“If you take the train you can take a bike for five bucks cargo,” Husson said. If taking a bike home isn’t feasible, Husson said, the next-best option is to leave it with a friend off-campus.

“I don’t know if I’m going to be here or not,” Husson said, “but… [I] have a lease that starts on a house this summer… and if I do go, I’ll probably store my bike in that house for the time being, just so it’s safe indoors.”
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