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Give the bike cops a brake: Campus Service Officers enforce bike safety

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Mike Faulkner, a campus service officer and wildlife and biology major, gets ready to patrol for the bike education enforcement program.

Love them or hate them, the bike cops are here for a reason.

The bike cops, also known as Campus Service Officers, part of the Bicycle Enforcement Education Program, were created as a way to regulate bicycle violations.

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There are 14 CSOs that are a part of BEEP. They wear gray and black uniforms and ride mountain bikes around campus.

The BEEP CSOs are all students from an array of majors. Mike Faulkner is a wildlife and biology major and has been a CSO since he started college six years ago. He found the job on RamWeb’s student job opportunities and worked in SafeWalk before moving up to a BEEP enforcement officer.

“We are recognized by the League of American Bicyclists as a silver bike friendly university,” said Joy Childress, who has been a traffic and bicycle education and enforcement program coordinator for 11 years. “Part of that designation is having enforcement be a strong part of our university.”

Most people hear the word enforcement and cringe, but Childress said that, in this case, it is actually a positive term.

“A lot of students don’t realize that it’s a good thing that we have system set up and that we are actually doing a lot better than other universities are across the nation,” Childress said.

According to Faulkner, the ticketing and bike education enforcement is out there for student safety. There is no quota for pulling people over. The main focus is to educate people about safety.

Cody Marsh, a CSU sophomore studying health and exercise science was pulled over by a CSO at the beginning of the school year. He said that he was pulled over for running a stop sign. After explaining that he was a transfer student, Marsh was let off with a warning.

“I don’t favor bike cops,” Marsh said. “I feel that they shouldn’t give out tickets. They should only be there to keep people safe.”

Marsh said now he always looks for CSO’s while riding his bike. If he doesn’t see any, he said he’ll still run a stop sign. He said even if he got a ticket, he would probably still run stop signs.

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Most commonly, people are pulled over for riding through dismount zones, ignoring stop signs and riding at night without a headlight. Bike registration is also required at CSU, which can lead to a ticket if stopped without registration.

“On all the bike racks around campus it indicates, with a yellow sticker, that your bike is required to be registered,” Faulkner said.

Bike registration comes with a pamphlet on safe cycling and what regulations in the state of Colorado are for bikes. Registration also increases the chances of finding a stolen bike.

Each state might have different bike laws. In Colorado, bikes are considered vehicles. What is illegal in a car is therefore illegal on a bike.

All the money from ticketing and bike registration goes back into the bike program and events at CSU. It pays for the bike racks, bike lanes and events such as Bike to Breakfast and Earth Day, according to Childress.

The tickets given by CSOs are not added to anyone’s personal record and are less expensive than the tickets issued by city officers. CSUPD officers have the option of offering the CSU BEEP, county or city municipal ticket. Fort Collins police do not have all three options, so they’re only able to write city municipal tickets.

“Running a stop sign on campus is $35, but running one off campus is $150, and it affects their permanent record,” Childress said.

Faulkner said they offer for first time bike offenders the option of watching the League of American Bicyclist’s safety seminar video online, in order to cut the cost of the ticket in half.

“For me and my crew, respect goes a long way,” Faulkner said. “We’re trying to be respectful to people when we stop them and inform them, but sometimes they don’t see it that way.”

Collegian Reporter Dina Alibrahim Fike can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @dnalibrahim.

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