Take a look around U of L’s campus and you’ll see dozens of bikes chained to designated bike racks, as well as trees, light poles, stair rails and other campus props. While this is often only an aesthetic problem, cyclists’ alternate lock-up arrangements can also be a hindrance to other students, especially to those who use wheelchairs.
“This is mainly an awareness issue,” said Cathy Patus, vice president for the Disability Resource Center. “There are very few people who would deliberately block a disabled ramp just for their convenience. Sometimes there just aren’t any nearby racks.”
Instead, Patus said many people simply don’t understand how easy it is for a ramp to be blocked.
“Even if the bike is chained outside the ramp, some of the ramps are so narrow that if the handlebar or any other part of the bike sticks into the ramp even an inch, then a wheel chair won’t be able to pass through.”
The Disability Resource Center has printed notes which are occasionally placed on bikes chained to ramps, telling the owner that chaining to ramps blocks disabled access. No flyers have been put out this semester because the center hasn’t received any complaints yet. University officials stated that their dispatchers receive around eight to 10 complaints a year.
According to Patus, the problem seems worst at the beginning of the fall semester, primarily because the warm weather brings more bikes to campus. She also stated that the northern half of campus seems to be the most problematic, especially around the Bingham Humanities and Human Science buildings. Both buildings are accessible by long, narrow ramps.
Larry Owsley, vice president for Business Affairs, said the university is aware that some buildings may not have enough racks.
“We added a number of bike racks in 2004. In late 2005, we received a list of additional sites that student representatives would like to see addressed. We are evaluating that list and well install more racks as funding is identified,” Owsley state. He added that the Belknap campus has 50 bike racks with a total capcity of around 390 bikes.
Some campus bikers say that problems may be overstated.
“I don’t think people use the ramps that are already here because they are too far from the doors, and it is hard to get bikes in them because they are so small,” said U of L biker Matthew Taylor.