Larger racks to be implanted at Mac?

By Alex Park

With more bikes than ever before struggling for parking space on campus, Facilities Management has begun to consider the addition of new racks for students and faculty, raising questions about what racks to get, where to put them, and how best to maximize their utility for the community. Spearheading the decision making process is MacBike, the increasingly popular student org which has long advocated for the interests of Macalester’s bikers.

According to Mark Stonehill ’09 of MacBike, the installation of a new bike rack has to consider two things: how well it can secure the bike, and how well it can protect the bike from the elements. The latter concern is especially overlooked at Macalester, despite the real damage that Minnesota winter can do to a bike.

Currently, the only bike racks that are protected from the elements are ones that happen to be underneath an existing overhang, such as the racks that serve Dupre. New racks may have their own, built-in roof for added protection.

After a string of bike thefts last year, security has also risen to the top of the priority list for bikers (see page 1). Yet making bikes more secure involves more than just installing additional racks, according to Stonehill. Racks that are poorly lit or sit on the edge of campus are especially prone to theft, making placement another important area of consideration.

MacBike has identified the rack outside the Veggie Co-op as one that they believe should be replaced and relocated for exactly this reason.

“We picked that site because one of the biggest crime problems on campus is on that rack,” Stonehill said.

MacBike has suggested adding a new rack in the better-lit stadium parking lot to replace it. Ideally, a rack there could also serve the Leonard Center, Stonehill said, which, since its opening, has been overwhelmed with bike traffic, requiring Facilities Management to add an additional one in September.

This year, Facilities added an additional rack outside Olin-Rice to relieve constraint on existing racks, but, Stonehill said, the rack makes it difficult to use the recommended U-locks for added security. It also has the problem of being very unattractive in the eyes of many of its users.

To provide an alternative, MacBike is collaborating with the Art Department to find an artist, either a current student or faculty member or someone else in the community, to design and build a more aesthetic rack with weather protection and hopefully at a relative discount for the school.