As CSU struggles with abandoned bikes, plans to expand parking in the works

Julia Rentsch

Video by Baylee Lakey, CTV11.

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Abandoned bikes around campus are a concern among faculty and students who struggle for space to lock up their bikes at the Colorado State University campus bike racks.

On campus, a bicycle is defined as abandoned if it has not been moved after seven days, according to University policy. It will be subject to impoundment after that time.

The Lory Student Center’s northwest corner bike racks outside Recycled Cycles and the Bookstore are an example of an area that is under scrutiny by CSUPD due to the amount of abandoned bikes present. 

There were 10 potentially abandoned bikes locked to those racks Saturday, designated by chalk marks placed on the tires by the CSUPD.

Nia Quadracci, a senior animal sciences major, said she has been parking her bike in northwest LSC area for at least two and a half years.

“That one’s been there for three years,” Quadracci said, pointing to a bike frame with no wheels. “There’s two over there that have been there for a while.

Abandoned bikes can be spotted on many racks around the CSU campus. (Photo by: Kevin Olson).
Abandoned bikes can be spotted on many racks around the CSU campus. (Photo by: Kevin Olson).

Joy Childress, the CSUPD Bicycle Education and Enforcement Program supervisor, manages the abandoned bikes on campus with a staff of students.

“Logistically, it’s not really feasible,” Childress said. “We have three people in my office and we’re in charge of all the abandoned bikes on campus.”

The ability for CSUPD to impound abandoned bikes relies on available space, both at the CSUPD impounding facilities and at Surplus Property, the warehouse that is the reuse, resale and recycle point for all assets owned by CSU.

“We have space that is very limited,” Childress said. “Because at the end of the school year… we have to get all the bikes that are left at the residence halls, which is around 275 bikes every year… my lot is completely full, at that point.”

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According to University policy, Childress must keep the impounded bikes for 90 days before they are made available for donation or resale.

“So, space is an issue, but luckily about a year and a half ago now, we hired an alternative transportation manager on campus,” Childress said, “so we had never (before) had anything like that, where an actual budget was, you know, facilitated towards these types of projects.”

Childress said that with the help of Alternative Transportation Manager Aaron Fodge, the CSUPD is now working on trying to find alternative storage areas so they can continue to impound abandoned bikes, despite the required holding period.

“We need more staff, we need more space,” Childress said.

Childress and Fodge said there are multiple projects being considered that may make bike parking on campus easier.

“Ideally, we’d love to push out our impound lot and make it bigger so that we can better serve the customers who are coming in here,” Childress said. “We’re trying to figure out better ways and possibilities.”

Expansion may also come in the form of more bike racks on campus, including a tentative plan for the northwest corner area of the LSC, which is in high demand.

“We’ve looked at it,” Fodge said. “If we do it, we’re going to have to rip out all the old trees, landscape in here, so we have looked at it. But… this one, we won’t be able to add as many spaces here as we would somewhere else for the same amount of money.”

Fodge estimates that the University will add 300 more bike parking spaces this year, as per the University Bike Plan. Currently, there are about 15,000 spaces for bikes, compared to 9,800 for cars.

“All the new buildings that are coming, the stadium, chemistry, biology, they’re going to get 2,000 more spaces, that’ll get us to 17,000,” Fodge said. “In three years, we’ll get to 18,000. I mean, there’s very few schools in the country that have anywhere near that amount of bike parking.”

Projects to help reduce the number of bikes left behind at the end of the school year are under way.

“There’s also the factors of trying to get better leave-it-behind programs at the end of the school year so through Recycled Cycles or through Surplus Property,” Childress said. “(We are) just trying to get people to bring their bikes to these places instead of just leaving them.”

While the campus is undergoing changes, Fodge said students should remain patient when trying to find bike parking.

“Having bikes left behind, it’s one of the unfortunate pieces of having a bike-friendly university,” Fodge said. “So, you may have to go to the next building over (to park), but every building’s got racks.”

Childress recommends that staff and students call CSUPD to request the removal of an abandoned bike.

“People need to call in and request… we take requests all the time, and that’s the list we work with once we have space available,” Childress said.  “Please take your bike home, don’t leave it!”

Collegian reporter Julia Rentsch can be reached at news@collegian.com and on Twitter @julia_rentsch.