Bikes wreak havoc on ramp users

Matt Kuhns

Students who attach their bicycles to handicapped-accessible ramps make it difficult for wheelchair-users such as Joyce Packwood to enter and exit buildings.

Packwood, coordinator of Disability Resources, said she has encountered several bikes blocking ramps, which she said poses a great inconvenience to her and other wheelchair-users at Iowa State.

“I get pretty upset with them,” she said. “Bikers should be willing to walk to a bike rack.”

In what Packwood describes as the “worst scenario,” blocked ramps could make it difficult or impossible for wheelchair-users to exit a building during a fire.

When a ramp is blocked, Packwood calls the Department of Public Safety to impound the bike, which makes unnecessary work and expenses for the department.

“It’s costly to police it, and it’s costly to store [bikes],” she said.

Allan Egdorf, coordinator of the DPS Parking Division’s bicycle program, said he has encountered the problems described by Packwood many times.

One time, Egdorf said he discovered a bike blocking a handicapped-accessible entrance to Curtiss Hall. The entrance is marked with a sign warning against parking a bike there.

The owner returned before the bike was removed, he said, and only received a ticket. Had the owner not returned quickly “we would have drilled the lock out,” he said.

Egdorf said any bike not parked in a bike rack is subject to a $5 fine from DPS. The charge for impounding a bicycle is $3.

The time required to remove a lock can vary considerably depending on the type of lock.

“If it’s anything but a U-lock, [we can remove the bike] in a matter of minutes,” Egdorf said.

Egdorf said U-locks can take much longer to remove, in some cases more than an hour.

“They’re pretty tough; we haven’t found a better way other than to drill,” he said.

Once a bike is impounded by DPS, Egdorf said the owner may claim it between 1 and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

If an impounded bike is not claimed after a certain period, it will eventually be auctioned off to clear space.

“We’ve got a lot of bikes,” Egdorf said.

DPS will auction the impounded bicycles later this month.

Packwood said though she doesn’t like that students’ bicycles get impounded, the regulations about where bikes can be parked is explicit in the Student Information Handbook.

The Student Information Handbook states that bikes should be parked “only at a bike rack … leaving them chained to a tree, pole, or building is prohibited.”

Egdorf said more bike racks will be installed on campus in the future in areas that don’t have racks.