I am a bike rider who respects rules. I walk my bike in dismount zones, I always ride with a helmet and I properly lock my bike to racks. For these reasons, last week I was both surprised and angry to see that the Department of Public Safety had cut my lock and impounded my bike sometime between 5 p.m. and when I returned to it at 11 p.m.
I locked my bike to one of the new, paired bike racks next to the Student Union. Though there might have been a notice on my rack the day before, or one blocked by bicycles on a neighboring rack, there wasn’t one on my rack before or after my bike was impounded.
As a graduate student who lives seven miles off campus and doesn’t own a car, I immediately called DPS to retrieve my bike. I was then informed that bikes wouldn’t be released until the following morning. When I asked for help getting home so late at night, DPS recommended I “call a taxi.” Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford a cab, so at 11 p.m. with a dead phone, I took public transit and walked all the way home. Had it been just one hour later, the Expo Line would no longer be running, and I would have been stranded.
Having a bike impounded is a tremendous hassle for students, costing us a good amount of stress, time and money to retrieve our bikes and purchase new locks. Similarly, last week’s bike rack removals costs DPS in labor to tape up notices that weren’t visible, cut 100 bike locks, transport these bikes, store them and then have trained officers spend their day dealing with students who want their bikes back.
All this could be avoided if DPS’ bike rack removal notices were as clearly displayed as bike dismount zones and reached as wide an audience as USC Transportation’s parking and traffic announcements. The fact that this isn’t the case exemplifies the gaps in USC policies that make students, staff and faculty who choose cycling as their mode of transit feel like second-rate members of our community. I’m a student who pays tuition like any other student, and whose interests DPS and Transportation should take into equal consideration as those who choose to drive or ride public transit to campus.
For this reason, I call upon DPS to post bike rack removal notices with the same level of visibility and caliber as those used to mark bicycle dismount zones. This simple solution would go a long way in saving students, staff, faculty and officers unnecessary stress, time and money.
Graduate student, master of public policy