Letters: CSU’s bike enforcement affects vulnerable students the most

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Dear Colorado State University, 

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As I am sure many students have noticed, bike enforcement is on around campus. The CSU Police Department is cracking down on infractions like riding in dismount zones, or failing to stop completely at stop signs.

I understand and appreciate the motive behind this enforcement. With the environmentally conscious culture of CSU, Fort Collins’ reputation as a great bicycling city, and the near-zero cost of it, biking is one of the most popular modes of transportation for students, and steps need to be taken to ensure that pedestrians and other bikers are kept safe.

That does not make the $35 fine I got for getting on my bike 15 feet inside the dismount zone during a time of low traffic volume sting any less. To many students, like myself, who are supporting themselves through college, $35 is not an insignificant amount.

With the rising cost of living in Fort Collins and the huge cost of being a full-time student, it is harder than ever for students living off of part-time jobs to make rent payments on time and maintain a healthy and consistent diet. $35 dollars is almost a week’s worth of food for a student on a budget.

We are clearly aware of this here at CSU. Everybody knows that students are taking on massive amounts of debt already just to get a degree, and that for many the cost of living and going to school can lead to food insecurity.

CSU has responded to this with a wonderful program where mobile food pantries are set up so that students can get healthy, fresh food at no cost, which for many significantly reduces stress on their budget and health. The same institution that is so aware of how every dollar matters to a student can so callously hand out $35 fines left and right to students who are making a conscious choice for green and cost-free transportation.

The traffic laws governing biking on campus are important and need to be enforced, but giving steep financial penalties to the most financially vulnerable in Fort Collins is wrong, and we need a different enforcement mechanism. Even a punishment of two hours of community service would be more sensible, given it will take most students longer than that to earn enough money to pay their fine.

Austin Kennedy, Economics major

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