In an effort to decrease property theft around campus, the USC Department of Public Safety has begun enforcing bike parking regulations and will be impounding bikes parked in violation of those rules.
In a university-wide e-mail last week, DPS wrote that more than 95 percent of bike thefts occur when bikes are left unsecured to bike racks. To decrease the number of thefts, DPS will be impounding bikes not secured to official racks.
“The rules have always been there and we have such a high number of stolen bicycles,” said Capt. Antonia Young from DPS Crime Prevention. “We’re going to impound bikes so they don’t get stolen.”
Retrieving an impounded bike will cost $20, if the owner has registered the bike. Owners who have not registered their bike with DPS — a mandatory process that costs $3 — will find it extremely difficult to recover an impounded bike, Young said.
The bike registration process is critical for another reason, too: it helps DPS determine how many racks to place on campus.
Many students said their main concern, in light of DPS’s move to enforce bike rack policies, was the insufficient rack space on campus. Young, however, said there are enough bike racks on USC property to store all bikes registered with DPS. She added that if the number of registered bikes showed there were not enough bike racks, DPS would not hesitate to contact USC Facilities Management Services and advocate for more racks.
Students remain concerned, though, that with the current number of racks on campus, locking their bikes will be a difficult task. Many students said the bike parking policy seems fair, but the limited rack space on campus might prevent them from properly securing their bikes.
“There’s not enough racks,” said Jessica Lam, a sophomore majoring in environmental engineering major. “For example, in Cardinal [Gardens] there’s just this one line of racks for several buildings to share.”
Lam, who had her bike impounded twice in the last year, said if there had been racks available, she would have used them.
DPS Capt. David Carlisle said if a rack is full, students should consider locking their bikes to a different rack in the area.
“Students would need to walk just a little bit farther to find a bike rack,” Carlisle said. “Sometimes there are available racks, but students consider them inconvenient to use.”
Young noted that using a rack farther away is still less inconvenient than having a bike stolen or impounded.
Still, Lam and others said leaving their bikes at a different rack is not always an option.
“Sometimes you just don’t have time to find another rack farther away, especially when you’re going to class and you can’t be late,” Lam said.
Though the initiative aims not to inconvenience students, but to discourage further bike theft, Rick Vranish, a sophomore majoring in business administration and cinema, said he felt there were more effective ways to reduce thefts.
“If someone’s carrying a bicycle out that has a chain on the tire, stop them,” said Vranish, who had his bike stolen from outside Birnkrant Residential College. “Keep people off campus who don’t belong here.”