So there I was, walking to The Statesman’s office in the Student Union on the last day of spring break. As I neared the Union entrance, I noticed many bikes missing from the bike racks—including mine.
I immediately thought someone stole the bikes, and I wanted vengeance on whoever did it. But I came to my senses, realizing someone would have noticed something if thievery was involved. So I carried on, because who is really going to help me look for a missing bike on a Sunday?
I later learned that over spring break, the Office of Sustainability removed the bikes from the Union and other locations on Stony Brook’s campus. It conducted this same operation over winter break for the bike racks around the library; something I learned about from someone I report to at work.
After a quick Google search, I learned that bikes left on the racks for over 30 days are subject to removal and are deemed abandoned.
I had not abandoned my bike. Mother Nature gave us a beating of snow this year, rendering a bicycle a useless means of travel. I should not have to move my bike to another bike rack if I am not using the bike.
Without much of a hindrance, I was able to get my bike back by Tuesday from the folks at the Sustainability Office, but at the price of a new u-lock and time to get the bike and lock.
Stony Brook University prides itself on being bike-friendly; we have the Wolf Ride bike share program and dedicated bike locations around campus. Just this past November, the League of American Bicyclists deemed Stony Brook a Bicycle Friendly University at the Bronze level. Then, the big wigs at Sustainability pull this devious move, essentially crushing Stony Brook’s work back to square one.
But I am not someone who creates problems or is a rampant complainer. I am a solution-seeker and a believer in justice. Luckily, I did not have to look very far for viable solutions to this abandoned bike epidemic.
I present you, Office of Sustainability, with two meaningful resolutions to this problem:
1) Post signage about this 30-day policy. Everywhere. If an official at Stony Brook has the audacity to approve the installation of that sign on the ground telling us to look up when crossing the street, then I am sure the least that can be done is post a sign about this policy at every single bike rack around campus.
2) Create a registration program for bikes the way the University of Maryland has. I am an out-of-state student from Maryland, and I usually compare the problems Stony Brook faces with the solutions University of Maryland proliferates. UMD, after all, has been awarded a Bicycle Friendly University at the Gold level by the League of American Bicyclists.
Let’s not re-invent the wheel, but instead learn from the works of others and improve it. The transportation white-collars at College Park require cyclists to register their bike. In the event it is stolen and found, it can be returned to the rightful owner. My brother went to UMD and he used the same bike I use. The UMD Department of Transportation Services sticker is still on the bike to this day.
Incorporating both solutions should be easy. First, get the signs installed. Informing the public about this idiotic policy will give you protection from lawsuits and angry students. Second, create an online database of registered bikes on campus. I am sure the sophisticated, experience-hungry computer science students of Stony Brook can help create one, and if not, pitch it as a senior design project for computer engineers. I am certain they will be thrilled to help you out. All you need to do is provide the cyclist a permit or sticker, which would attach to the bike. And plus, because this is an online solution, you just saved paper, and therefore, trees.
Talk about being sustainable.
But please, for the love of all things good, do not call this program “Wolfie-[something]” or “Wolf-[something].” I am confident to say some of us Seawolves are tired of Wolfie this, or Wolfie that. Leave Wolfie to athletics.
If you still think it is the best idea to round up theses bikes to clear up the bike racks, fine. Add to the growing number of bikes you have collected. But if you think it is time to solve this problem with real solutions, bravo, you just stepped into the 21st century, where being responsible is the way to go.
What you decide to do is up to you, but do not forget to involve the University Police, the facilities and management departments and anyone else you see fit in your quest for a solution to this problem.
If spring break was that slow for the staff members at the Sustainability Office that you guys decided to round up the abandoned bikes, the very least you could have done was notify the public before you did anything. I digress.
I think you should expect a bill of $50 for my new u-lock. I am sure you guys had a titillating time while removing my old one.