Changing Gears: Improperly placed bikes to be seized

By Allison Krecek

They lean against benches, hug trees and trip up traveling students: Bikes that aren’t secured to racks.

The NIU Police Department has started notifying students that if their bike isn’t locked up in a designated area it will be confiscated. They attach flyers on bikes, and if it is not taken off or moved by Tuesday the bike will be confiscated even if it is on a bike rack.

University Police Chief Tom Phillips said police will confiscate the bikes not to frustrate students, but to make sure items weren’t abandoned. Bikes that have been confiscated in front of Lincoln and Grant are stored in the police station. He said they were taken because there are no residents living in those residence halls.

“We’re also looking at since [Lincoln and Grant] aren’t occupied we want to make sure we deal with abandoned bicycles,” Phillips said. “Also if everything is cleaned up it can help lower crimes, so that’s another reason.”

If a student is missing his or her bike, Phillips suggested calling the police station or coming in to claim the bike.

“If somebody abandons something on property or it’s lost we take it for safekeeping,” Phillips said. “We’re not looking to implement any kind of fear … we just want to keep our campus clean, secure and safe.”

Freshman history major Jessica Stoye finds the confiscation of bikes unneeded.

“I think the notification about the confiscation of bikes is kind of stupid because there aren’t enough bike racks for everyone,” Stoye said.

Most residence halls provide bike racks for the students, but there are still some locked against trees or benches or even leaning against the walls. The Police Department believes part of this problem may be a result of bikes being left from previous years.

“I think the police should get more bike racks around places because people are obviously resorting to trees and benches because there’s not enough,” Stoye said. “If you get [to New Hall] past 4 o’clock there are no spots.”

Paige Bumphrey, junior speech and language pathology major, said more bike racks should be added. Bumphrey said she does understand what the police department is trying to accomplish.

“I know there are people who are having trouble finding spaces to put their bikes, so that can be a problem for the students, but I also understand that people are tripping over them … almost every day because they stick out very far,” she said.

While students like Stoye are concerned about what could happen to their bikes if they are not locked up in a designated area, Bumphrey doesn’t seem to be worried.

“It hasn’t really affected me because my bike is locked up in a designated area,” Bumphrey said. “If there weren’t any other spaces I would probably put mine over somebody else’s bike. I don’t know if you’re allowed to do that, but that’s what I would do.”

Even that might be unnecessary as New Hall is working on getting more bike racks and other residence halls may follow in their footsteps. Phillips said the police will be moving bike racks from in front of Lincoln and Grant to buildings that need them more.

“We really want to move the bike racks where students are living, studying, working and playing so that they have relatively easy access to bike racks,” Phillips said. “At this point I don’t know of any plans of us adding any bike racks, we may do that in the future, but we are basically shifting our resources to offer better security for bicycles on campus.”

Stoye doesn’t believe bikes left from previous years have caused the problem.

“[NIU] rented out too many bikes, and there are too many people who brought bikes, and there is just not enough spots for everyone,” she said.