Student cyclists discuss managing bikes and getting around campus
Biking is arguably the most efficient way to get around campus. Parking is hard to come by, and at 5,200 acres, MSU’s campus isn’t convenient to traverse on foot. Biking solves both these problems.
“It’s just a really nice campus to ride around on,” Spanish education senior Collin Kruzel said. “There’s a lot of good little paths and stuff — it’s just easy cruising around.”
It may be easy for Kruzel, but not all bikers seem to understand where they can and cannot bike.
“People are biking on the sidewalk so much instead of in the little bike lane in the road,” Kruzel said. “So I guess sometimes that isn’t clear, but I don’t know why. The path has a biker (painted on) it.”
But the confusion goes both ways. Social work junior David Havens said he had little patience for people walking obliviously into spaces reserved for bikers.
“I’ll usually be one of those guys who’ll yell ‘bike lane,’ at one of the pedestrians,” Havens said. “I need to have this space, because you have your space I have mine.”
Where to Ride
While MSU Police and the MSU Bikes Service Center have worked to clearly define surface legality regarding bickes, there are still some problems. It’s when both the road and the sidewalk don’t have bike lanes that things get hectic.
“It kind of gets to be a hassle like at Farm and Shaw there,” biochemistry senior Jacob Plona said. “The bike lane kind of goes away so you have to go up on the sidewalk.”
The belief that when the bike lane disappears, bikers are supposed to move to the sidewalk, is a misconception. If there isn’t a bike lane on a sidewalk, bikers should stay away and use the road.
This misconception is one cause of the intense congestion in areas like Farm Lane and Shaw Lane where there are no bike lanes.
The problem is that most students, like Plona, don’t think they should ride in roads without bike lanes. And some students don’t feel safe even in the bike lanes.
“I try to stay on the sidewalk even though there’s bike lanes,” political science sophomore Zach Story said. “Automobiles kind of scare me.”
Bikers like Story take to the sidewalk, where they are forced to weave dangerously through the mass of pedestrians. And in a situation like that, people might get combative.
“You can ask anyone,” Havens said. “Either they’re a walker and they’ll say ‘I hate bikers because they infringe on space,’ or you’re a biker and you can’t get around anywhere.”
Lock it Up
Still more stressful than weaving through pedestrians is the fear of bike theft.
“I’m like the only one of my friends that bikes (because) they’re so terrified of having their bike stolen,” anthropology and French senior Alissa Lyon said.
One of the best ways to insure your bike against theft is to register it with the MSUPD. “(Registration) helps us identify bicycles if they ever get stolen,” Officer Craig Guadiano said. “If the serial number matches the registration we can track down the owner, and that’s pretty important.”
Registering your bike is free. It’s also required. If you park your bike on campus without registering it, the police can impound it at any time. Then you would have to pay a fee within thirty days to get it back.
Bikes left in inoperable condition, unsecured bikes, or bikes locked to anything other than a bike rack may also be impounded. Guadiano recommended the use of a U-lock, as weaker cord-type locks can be cut or broken by determined thieves.
Guadiano also pointed out an important (though often scorned) bike regulation.
“Bicyclists should have white lights in the front and red lights in the rear,” Guadiano said. “That way they’re very visible to the drivers and other bicyclists and pedestrians during low light hours.”
Though registration is free, the MSUPD nevertheless impounds an average of 1500-2000 bikes each academic year, Guadiano said.
The majority of impounded bikes are taken during the annual “bicycle cleanup.” Bikes can’t be stored on campus during the summer, so at the end of the spring semester police impound all bikes left behind.
During the spring cleanup this year, the MSUPD seized about 1200 bikes.
In the fall a selection of those unclaimed bikes are made available to the public for purchase at the MSU surplus store. This year’s sale occurred on September 11.
“We had maybe 700 people here this morning,” MSU Surplus Store Education Coordinator James Ives said. “Just crazy busy. We had people parking on the streets. We had to direct traffic.”
Prices for the used bikes ranged from $5 to $130, depending on the condition and value of the bike. The average price was $25, and there were about 600 bikes for sale.
The MSU Surplus Store brought in mechanics from the MSU Bikes Service Center to offer appraisals to customers.
“We’d rather people leave happy than get it home and say, ‘Boy, this is a piece of junk,’” Ives said. “We want people to know what they’re buying.”
The sale began at 7:30 a.m., but the best bikes had already been snatched up within the first hour.
“I got here at 8:30 and there was already a line up,” osteopathic medicine freshman Dhairya Kiri said. “I maybe hoped I would beat the rush, but 8:30 is already too late. It almost reminds me of Black Friday.”
The annual used bike sale is a collaborative effort between the MSU Surplus Store and MSU Bikes Service Center, two entities that were joined together in 2012 under Campus Sustainability.
Tim Potter, Sustainable Transportation Manager at the MSU Bikes Service Center has been an advocate for a bike-friendly campus since MSU Bikes Service Center began as a volunteer project in 2003. One of his long term goals is to finish adding bike lanes to all roads on campus.
While full coverage is still several years away, Potter said the 70 percent of campus roads that have lanes is an accomplishment nonetheless.
“In the year 2000 there were no bike lanes,” Potter said, “And now it’s about 70 percent bike lanes. So it’s made a huge amount of progress in the 15 years.”