New bike racks to cycle way throughout SF State
March 13, 2008 10:33 AM
Clutched to every bolted-down chunk of campus property, locked-up bicycles have become a familiar sight at SF State.
Sure, it violates state law and risks a $55 fine, according to SF State Parking and Traffic. But students like senior Carleigh Rochon said they don't have time to seek out a rack or check their bike into the Bike Barn, the supervised parking service.
"It takes too long," said the rushed psychology major after locking her bike to a lamp post. "There are a couple of bike rules that I break. They can enforce it...but they don't."
Next semester, however, students can use one of the 100 secure bicycle racks planned for installation around campus -- the first part of a long-term plan to improve the appeal of bike commuting at SF State. Project members will decide on specific rack locations later this month, said Jason Porth, associate director of community relations.
Currently, 81 outdoor bicycle racks exist at SF State -- one space for every 370 students, according to a 2007 study by student bike activist Adam Greenfield and school enrollment data.
A $12,000 grant from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District will pay for the additional 100 racks, Porth said.
"Plenty of secure bicycle parking can really encourage people to ride bikes," said David Takemoto-Weerts, bicycle program coordinator at bike-friendly UC Davis. "It's a relatively easy and inexpensive thing to improve."
While the campus's Bike Barn offers free, secure bike parking under the gym during school hours, "fast, quick racks" around campus can address the needs of students in a rush, said Rachel Kraai of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.
Many riders break the rule and lock up to the abundant railings at SF State, but the resulting bicycle clutter can cause building access problems for the disabled, Kraai said.
Riding bicycles through SF State is also illegal -- last semester, 24 riders received tickets for riding on campus or improperly locking their bikes, said university spokeswoman Ellen Griffin.
Through meetings of the so-called "Bicycle Working Group," an unofficial gathering of SF State police, cyclists, school and transit officials, Porth and other members concluded that the "U-rack" style would be the most bike-friendly choice. The upside-down "U" provides two points of contact at which to lock a frame, Porth said.
Racks like the "wavy" type emphasize form over function, appearing beautiful but providing only one point of contact for locking bikes, Takemoto-Weerts said.
"All you see are the bikes anyway," Takemoto-Weerts said of more utilitarian racks.
Also a member of the Bicycle Working Group, BECA graduate student Adam Greenfield worked last February on a petition that helped bring the new racks to SF State. Greenfield said it was important to study where cyclists locked up, regardless of racks, and build the new racks there.
"It seemed, to me, pretty clear where the bikes needed to go," he said. "Let's facilitate that."
Bicycle commuting in San Francisco has become more popular in recent years, with 5 percent of city residents saying they use a bicycle as their primary transportation, according to a 2007 research poll made available through the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. Those rates tend to be higher on college campuses, said Kraai of the Coalition.
"College campuses are traditional bastions of bicycle culture," said Kraai, who has worked on SF State cycling issues since 2006.
As SF State increases its residential population, planners expect students to take short campus trips by bicycle, further increasing the need for bike parking, Porth said.
Other plans include the construction of a cross-campus bike path in the next two years and a bicycle repair facility in the new Behavioral and Social Sciences building in seven to eight years, according to Porth and the campus's long-term Master Plan.
"For a campus so committed to social justice, we view [improvements to cycling] as an imperative," Porth said.
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