Opinion: The University’s War on the Bike
With the city becoming more bike-friendly, cycling is promoted as a cheap, healthy and fun alternative form of travel for New Yorkers. For many, cycling is their main form of transportation—sometimes commuting from work, school and home entirely on a bike. In addition, many college students across the country also rely on biking as their main form of transportation on and off of campus.
Typically colleges offer students bicycle parking outside of class buildings and residency halls, with some schools going as far as to include bike racks inside of school owned buildings to protect the students’ main form of transportation from the elements. Except for us; the University offers only one bike parking area to the immediate left of One Pace Plaza.
The area remains locked between the hours of 10pm to 8 am, unless a security guard can be summoned to unlock the area for students. Beyond that there exists a strange protocol in terms of how the University handles bicycles in the residences. Maria’s Tower being in One Pace Plaza uses the bike racks mentioned previously, while the Fulton Street residences allow students to keep their bicycles in their rooms. The newest residence hall 182 Broadway opened its doors to students for the first time this past fall and as students flooded its triples and doubles, some students brought with them not only comforters and towels, some brought with them their two wheeled means of getting around.
With a job in Washington Square Park, I myself decided that a bike would be a cheap and efficient way of commuting to work after class. After asking my Residence Advisor it was clear that there was no policy in place. After the RA had asked the Residence Director at the time, I was informed that if all roommates allowed it and there was room it would be acceptable to have a bicycle kept in the residence.
However, as time went on, security at 182 Broadway began to say that keeping a bicycle was not allowed, as dictated by the RD that had recently changed. When brought up to my RA and RD, this was proven to be inaccurate information—security was misinformed and should have been allowing students to bring their bicycles inside.
With the semester continuing, this odd event began to become more and more frequent with different security guards saying that no bicycle was allowed in any University residence hall at all. But when pressed, no guards could provide acceptable reasoning or directions from their supervisors as to why there was a restriction on bicycles.
When asked for the exact reason for not allowing bikes in the residences, one security guard said it was a fire hazard—a dubious claim, given that Fulton, which accommodates bicycles, is a far smaller residence with tighter corridors and smaller elevators. When this was explained to the security guard, they continued to assure me one again that no residence owned by the University allowed any type of bike into the residency hall.
Is this a problem created by the security or is it the University imposing the restrictions without reason? Why in a city that has a growing community of those who commute on privately owned bikes—as opposed to the expensive CitiBike alternative—does the University not offer bike racks in residence halls like other city universities? NYU, Colombia, Hunter, and the collection of CUNY and SUNY schools in Manhattan all provide students with bike racks in nearly all of their resident halls, and if not, allow for students to keep their bikes within