Work on this Bicycle Planning Advisory Document began in Fall of 2005, when the HSU Parking & Transportation committee asked Green Wheels to submit recommendations for improving bicycle infrastructure and services. After initial brainstorming sessions and writing done by Green Wheels members, the advisory effort branched out to solicit suggestions from the campus community.
This document was written to represent the interests of as many commuters as possible. On January 24th 2007, Green Wheels facilitated a 2-hour long workshop with over 20 participants representing students, faculty, and staff (workshop pictures here). In small groups, these workshop participants shared, discussed, and debated ideas for the draft plan. Their comments have been incorporated into this document.
Major authors of this document are Aaron Antrim, Sara Dykman, Alissa Fogg, Chad Johnson, and Chris Rall. Other contributors to this effort included Green Wheels members Victor Shen, Thomas Viducich, and Aaron Viducich, among others, and Nancy Reichard, mediator and process advisor, and John Capaccio of HSU Housing & Dining.
This has been adopted as an advisory document by the HSU Parking & Transportation Committee in Fall 2007.
Humboldt State University is beginning to face serious challenges to its car-focused transportation infrastructure and services. The university has run out of space to build surface lots, and is currently looking at plans to build a $12 million multi-level parking structure. Parking fees are in the process of more than doubling over four years. Compounding the already steep price of owning and operating a car (which costs the average U.S. household $7,000/year), gas prices in Humboldt County are some of the highest in the nation, and have increased dramatically in the last two years. These factors make investment in transportation demand management (TDM) appropriate, necessary and cost effective.
One alternative that the university can encourage is cycling. Compared with bus subsidies or construction of multi-level parking structures, services for cyclists are inexpensive. As an example, “one analysis of transportation programs at Stanford estimated that an expenditure of $2.75 million on bicycle infrastructure would yield 1,475 new riders for a capital cost per new rider of $1,864—much lower than the marginal cost of a new structured parking space” (Transportation and Sustainable Campus Communities by Toor and Havlick, page 129). Besides its low cost, bicycling offers other benefits: it is fun, healthy, and community-friendly, while making few demands on infrastructure.
In separate sections, this advisory document addresses and discusses how to serve specific needs of cyclists: acquisition, maintenance/repair, safe travel routes, education/skills, and security. The idea is that in order to commute by bicycle, an individual will need to be able to acquire a bike, keep it maintained, ride to their destination safely and secure their bike at the destination. Different individuals may need assistance in meeting different needs, depending on their disposable income, cycling experience, and other factors. Therefore, a flexible program that meets most or all these needs when necessary is the best course of action.
Each year, over 2000 people start new lives as students, staff, or faculty at HSU. Incoming campus community members must be encouraged to acquire a bicycle even before they arrive. Orientation materials for incoming students and their parents should emphasize bicycle services and infrastructure on campus and in town to illustrate Arcata and HSU's bicycle friendliness. Examples to mention include Arcata Library Bikes, Bike-and-Ride on RTS, AMRTS busses as a bicycling alternative during rainy months, the Bicycle Learning Center, Humboldt Bay Area Bike Map, Commuter Skills Workshop (proposed), and JackPass (proposed).
Many parents consider purchasing a car for their student. Instead, they should be encouraged to purchase a good commuter bicycle. The university should work with bicycle shops to set up a package deal targeting new students, which could be promoted during orientation events and in orientation publications. If incoming students can be convinced to abandon their car before the move, they will save themselves and Humboldt state several thousands of dollars in associated car costs.
Even though the cost of owning and using a bike is significantly less than that of a car, purchasing a new bike and appropriate wet-weather gear can easily run to one thousand dollars. The University could do many things to help students overcome this first hurdle. When a parking space costs $30,000 and a new bike can cost $300, many options for encouraging bicycle riding are cost effective:
1. Subsidized loan for bike purchase.
2. Support Arcata Library Bikes with direct funding, promotional, and/or grant-writing assistance. If this vital institution does not resurface HSU may try to replicate it on campus.
3. Creating a campus-based bicycle lending program, which would rent bicycles for any length from a day to a semester. A program to rent bicycles on a short-term basis through Center Activities could also offer mobility to shorter-term campus visitors.
4. Partner with local bike shops or a major retailer to sell discounted bikes and equipment.
5. A safety equipment program can be far more effective at preventing accidents and injuries than enforcement alone, and can reduce the enforcement costs. California law forbids the unsafe practice of riding a bicycle at night without proper lights, yet many people place themselves at risk because they do not own bicycle lights. Bicycle lights are inexpensive and can save lives. The university should purchase bike lights in bulk and make them available to students at cost, at a subsidized rate or for free. See program examples: Shift's Get Lit campaign, and the Portland Police Department's program to distribute bike lights and safety brochures.
In order to commute by bicycle your bicycle must work. Many people have an old bike in their garage that could get them around Arcata if it were tuned up. Helping these riders repair, tune up, and maintain their equipment will increase the number of active bicycle commuters on campus. Good bike maintenance services will also increase bike safety.
The Bicycle Learning Center (BLC) is a volunteer-run club providing the tools, books, and knowledge needed for HSU community members to fix their bicycles. People at the bike forum and volunteers at the BLC both liked that the BLC is volunteer run. In addition to the basic function of providing maintenance services and developing the community's skills, the BLC is a key grassroots institution that provides a locus for community among HSU bicyclists. Support for the BLC will improve BLC visibility and service availability, and thus expand the volunteer community and BLC clientele. Here are some ways university support could enhance the BLC.
1. Advertising and Promotion. In order for people to utilize the BLC they need to know about the BLC. Posting prominent signs to indicate its location would be one way to increase student awareness. The BLC should also be included on all university signage, and campus maps, including new bike parking maps (see education)
2. Education Credit. The BLC would like to have it's volunteers receive one credit for performing a designated number of service hours.
Because of the wide variety of needs of bicycle commuters a second option of maintenance needs to be offered. Below is a list of services commuters on campus have expressed a need for. These concerns could be met in several different ways. One way would be to create a second bike maintenance shop which could be organized by AS in a fashion similar to CCAT, or by Parking & Commuter Services. The BLC could also choose to incorporate some of these services or changes into their program, perhaps funding these programs through a fee-for-service model, which has been proven successful at other universities.
Services needed at HSU include:
1. Regular hours. Open for service assistance daily during peak hours. These times could be adjusted in accordance with seasonal needs. During the bike forum it was noted that the a bike maintenance center needs to have more hours that are posted. At the bike forum a suggestion was made tools, a pump, and a coin operated patch kit machine available 24 hours a day.
2. Central location. A convenient location is important for people pushing broken bikes. A convenient location would allow commuters to oil a chain or make minor adjustments between classes. The more convenient the location, the more people will access the facilities. Suggested locations include the basement of the library, or even better, the bottom of the B st. hill after it is closed to cars.
3. Adequate space. In order to afford sufficient room for multiple mechanics, repair tools, and scrap bikes, bikes in service, bikes for rent, demonstration space, etc.. a 500 sq. ft (minimum) space would be ideal. With a big enough space this area could serve as a classroom for bicycle maintenance classes.
4. Mechanic staff. Run by a coordinator and staffed with paid student mechanics. The coordinator would organize the shop and oversee the project. Student mechanics would not need to be experts in bike maintenance; this would be a great way for students to learn more about bike maintenance, get money for school, and make biking a better experience for commuters. Having a paid position would also create more stable hours. Requests for more a more reliable schedule with more hours came up during the forum.
Additional bike maintenance service improvements
1. Maintenance Class. A bike maintenance class offered through HSU would cover detailed bike repair curriculum. Rather than watching someone fix a bike different from yours, students would be able to work directly on their bike. Part of the class could be volunteering at the BLC. In the past, bike maintenance classes were provided through Center Activities, but were not well advertised, cost students more money, and did not provide course units. A good model for a bike maintenance class may be the for-credit student-led seminars at CCAT. Maintenance classes were suggested at the community forum.
2. Student Discount to Bike Shops. Chains wear out and tubes pop. Giving student discounts is another incentive to bike to school. Bike shops already give discounts to students. These bike shops should be recognized and promoted to make students aware of the availability of reduced-cost services and equipment. The idea of coupons or discounts at bike shops for incoming students was popular at the community bike forum.
3. Bike pumps. Bike pumps, equipped for both types of tubes, should be available at all times in well lit areas, such as UPD. Jenkins Hall, with applied technology classrooms, presents a unique opportunity. Already fitted with air compressors and pneumatic air plumbing, air spigots could be installed at the front or the back of the building. Besides air, it was recommended that patch kits be for sale either in a campus store like the Depot or South Campus Market, or in a coin operated vending machine.
4. Bike Maintenance Information. Appropriate venues for publishing this information would be in Lumberjack and Community Wheel columns and on the BLC website.
The HSU Bicycle Learning Center was mentioned in HSU's Fall 2005 Parking and Mobility Study [PDF]. In section 3-9, the Bicycle Learning Center is presented as a university transportation service offering even though it receives virtually no university funding resources. The BLC mentioned in context with staffed programs at several other institutions:
“Part of the bicycling experience is learning to maintain and repair your bicycle. HSU has the Bicycle Learning Center which provides on assistance with bicycle maintenance, repair and commuting. Other schools such as UC Davis (Bike Barn), UC Santa Cruz (Bike Co-Op), and University of Wisconsin at Madison (Bike Annex) provide similar facilities. UC Santa Barbara has a student bike shop, which offers discounts on helmets.
Other bicycle programs include the Red Bike Program at CSU Fresno by which students can inexpensively rent a new or reconditioned bicycle for the year complete with lock and helmet; Bike Traffic school, BikeRight-Bicycle Safety and Injury Prevention, and auction of abandoned and unclaimed bicycles at UC Davis; bike shuttle from Santa Cruz up the hill to UC Santa Cruz; lock cutting service at University of Arizona, Tucson (requires proof of bicycle ownership with bicycle registration and ID); and Bike Ambassadors Programs at University of Wisconsin, Madison which includes classes and assistance to encourage bicycle commuting.” (Parking and Mobility Study 3-9)
Other university-sponsored bike maintenance and lending programs:
Making it safe to get to campus on a bicycle is vital to encouraging more people to do it. While some of this comes from giving riders the skills they need to handle riding in traffic, much of it comes from infrastructure. Unfortunately, entering campus is often a dangerous section of the typical bicyclists commute. Parking cars, buses, and a lack of bicycle infrastructure create a dangerous situation. Several people have been “car-doored” on B-street, and Library circle is dangerous as well. The university could do more to create safe and inviting ways to enter the campus by bicycle, and we could work with the city and county to ensure there are safe routes to HSU.
Bike routes on campus have never been specifically considered. During the 2004 masterplan process, it was disappointing to see the architect fail to identify bike routes on campus. A subsequent traffic study for the EIS of the master plan failed to distinguish between bicycles and cars (see Alternative Transportation Club letter to the HSU Masterplan Committee). Both of these omissions occurred despite public comments in favor of bike routes. As of now, bicyclists are expected to enter the university the same way cars do. This is not an environment that will encourage more people to bike to school.
We have identified several areas where Class I off-street bike routes should be delineated and/or constructed (Figure 1). One route would go from L.K. Wood Boulevard and 14th Street northeastward into campus paralleling the existing pedestrian path in the same location. Many concerned citizens at January’s community forum recommended this route, which could be completed with the construction of ramps and signage at the southwest entrance to campus. Simple signage indicating "bicycle only" and "pedestrian only" uses on modified routes, as well as bike speed limit signs, all of which can be found at UC Santa Barbara and many other bike-friendly schools, will reduce chances of accidents. A second route, also very popular at the forum, would run from the intersection of L.K. Wood and Sunset Avenue, east through the trees to the fire lane behind the health center. This route would enable cyclists to avoid Library Circle, and its bus traffic; an improvement for both buses and cyclists. A third route should run along the west side of the library to provide access between the north and south sides of campus. Adjacent to this route, community members recommended separating pedestrian and bike traffic on the HWY 101 bike/pedestrian overpass just west of the ceramics and sculpture labs. Southbound L.K. Wood is in need of modifications to facilitate access to this overpass. Currently, southbouth cyclists here are forced to either ride illegally on the east sidewalk, or to attempt dodging traffic while crossing L.K. Wood, in order to access the overpass entrance on the east side of the road. L.K. Wood is generally an unsafe cycling route. Community members frustrated with current the lack of bike-safe infrastructure on L.K. Wood recommended the installation of signage and improved intersections which would incorporate existing bike lanes. Current intersection structure makes entering campus from L.K. Wood a dangerous undertaking, especially at the Sunset and 14th intersections. Other popular route improvements mentioned at the community workshop included demarcation to separate pedestrians from cyclists behind the arts and music buildings, and major improvements/modification of B street. There were several popular suggestions for making B Street bike-safe. Parking could be eliminated on one side of the street, allowing for the addition of bike lanes. As a central and highly traveled part of campus, many believe that B street should be closed to car traffic, becoming instead an avenue for bikes and pedestrians. This new and improved design would provide a safe, student-friendly, scenic and multi-use alternative to blacktop. Modifications could include bike racks, benches, and landscaping. Another eyesore, Union Street, is covered with potholes and busy car traffic, and is currently a dangerous place to ride. Community members called for bike lane installation and proper maintenance of Union St. In reality, all campus streets should have either bike lanes, or "share the road" arrows/chevrons (“sharrows”) stenciled to remind motorists to be aware (see shared lane markings used in San Francisco). Some of these routes will need to be adjusted as the masterplan is implemented.
One idea brought up at the forum was the installation of "Bike Pools." This would take the form of a message board and marked area, possibly near the a central group of bike racks, which would allow interested cyclists riding in similar directions, such as to Eureka on HWY 101, to meet and commute in groups. Biking in groups increases visibility and respect given from motorists.
Infrastructure outside the campus is important as well, and the university should take the initiative to work with the city in the creation of safer bike routes leading to HSU. The majority of attendees at the community forum had suggestions for bicycle infrastructure improvements leading to campus. Several expressed frustration at the lack of available connections to trails or bike paths leading to campus, especially those arriving from Eureka. Most are forced to either fight car traffic at busy off ramps from HWY 101, or to negotiate the deadly narrow, shoulder-less stretch of Bayside Road. Drastic Bayside Road improvements, including bike lane and signage installation should be of top priority. The university should show some clout in helping to bring to fruition plans for the intended bike trail to Eureka. This trail would be placed in the right-of-way of the existing unused rail line west of HWY 101 with a pedestrian/bike path, allowing cyclists to escape the dangers of the freeway. It could even connect directly with a bike route leading to HSU.
Current construction practices on and around campus will often force cyclists to compete with cars for limited space, or onto unstable stretches of gravel. Bicycle safety, in the form of labeled/controlled alternate routes and signage, should be taken into account when road construction occurs. Also, round-abouts can be dangerous for cyclists, because motorists tend to enter these intersections looking for other cars rather than cyclists, and may attempt to pass cyclists in the round-about, which can be very unsafe. Education and signage for both motorists and cyclists will be vital if these types of intersections are adopted.
Several community members expressed ideas for improved bike transportation on city bus lines. These included the installation of bike racks on the AMRTS lines, as well as the allowance of bikes inside city buses when racks are full or nonexistent.
Funding for bike routes need not come solely from the transportation fund. Some money could come from capital improvements.
Figure 1 Map of HSU campus showing proposed campus bike routes and existing city routes.
An effective publication strategy will make alternative transportation more visible, and help alternative transportation to appear more officially endorsed and supported, in short, less "alternative" and more viable as a default transport mode. Publications and online materials can serve three ends: marketing and promotion to educate SOV (single occupancy vehicle) drivers about advantages offered by various alternative modes, skills development for alternative transportation neophytes, and resources information for current and prospective alternative transportation users.
Instead of developing distinct alternative transportation-only publication, alternative transportation information should be integrated into existing publications. Parking pass buyers must receive literature on alternative transportation options and advantages before and after they purchase a parking pass. The literature they receive with their parking pass should include instructions for how to return their parking pass and receive a refund should they choose to begin commuting by an alternative mode.
Information and brochures produced by Parking & Commuter Services for potential and current parking customers should highlight opportunities to use alternative transportation as well as its many benefits for individual users, their community, campus, and the environment, including: emissions reductions, reduced land use for impermeable surfaces, personal expense, local economics, community, safety, and health & fitness. All these benefits are outlined in greater detail on the Green Wheels website in the article "Why not drive?"
Whenever possible, alternative transportation needs to be highlighted and presented as a mainstream transportation-mode choice on the HSU campus, because, after all, a majority of students commute to HSU using alternative transportation. To represent this environmentally-conscious mainstream choice, forum participants suggested that one of the rotating welcome banner images on www.humboldt.edu should feature alternative transportation.
In the Green Wheels-facilitated forum, many participants expressed that marketing efforts to encourage the use of alternative transportation need to be targeted to specific audiences such as faculty, students, commuters outside of Arcata, commuters in Arcata, the environmentally-conscious, the health-conscious, or the community-conscious. Efforts should also be designed to address the specific perceived barriers to bicycle commuting: safety, helmet-hair, sweat, convenience issues, socio-economic stigma, etc. Because of the low use of alternative transportation by faculty, forum participants suggested that faculty could be targeted specifically. One particular challenge to targeting faculty are their artificially low parking rates. See "Students Subsidize Staff Parking."
A few forum participants suggested promotional efforts need to engage campus media, particularly the Lumberjack, and someone suggested establishing a regular column. Another project could be student-produced television advertisements which could highlight the heath benefits of biking, appeal to viewers' vanity (ie: that they will become leaner and fitter). This project could be pursued in partnership with the health center and/or with the sports complex.
Promoting sustainable transportation must begin before students arrive on campus. Incoming first-year and transfer students may be persuaded not to bring automobiles if they receive information about our free local bus services, bike facilities and services (such as the BLC and Arcata Library Bikes), weekend shuttle service for housed students, and future in-the-works services such as JackPass and FlexCar. Information about sustainable transportation should be a component of Humboldt Orientation Program (HOP) materials and programs.
As part of the pursuit of transportation equity for cyclists, a bike parking map needs to be developed, like what is already offered for car parking. This is necessary because some bike parking areas routinely are overfilled, and bicyclists may not know about bike parking on the other side of a building. While auto parking is centralized, and is clearly visible because of the expansive cleared areas for surface lots, bike parking is distributed throughout campus, sometimes in convenient but unexpected places. It is particularly important for a bike parking map to distinguish covered bike racks.
January workshop participants suggested that bike parking maps should be posted on the new kiosks and at bike racks.
Wherever possible, bike parking should be indicated on the general campus map. The Bicycle Learning Center (BLC) should also be included, as it is an important transportation resource for campus visitors and regulars alike, and is a center for bicycle education and community.
Bike parking information is only useful if travelers are able to successfully navigate a safe route to campus. Publications for bicyclists must not neglect the community outside our campus border. Existing maps and resources will be offered, and new ones developed. The Humboldt Bay Area Bike Map was produced by the Redwood Community Action Agency Natural Resources Division under contract with the North Coast Air Quality Management Board. NCAA Natural Resource Services will provide free maps to schools with bicycle education programs (normal suggested retail price is $2.95). A new map needs to be developed for Arcata that highlights bike routes in town, and marks routes to school.
The City of Arcata has established ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets (see the City of Arcata Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan). For the city to meet these targets they need to be aggressive at reducing transportation emissions. The university's impacted parking lots and the city's ambitious environmental goals create a ripe foundation for collaboration. The city would likely jump at the opportunity such as a bike commuters' map. A workshop participant suggested an Arcata-area bike map should include "point A to B" distance and time information.
Bike parking locations should also be indicated on placards located around campus. Overflow parking locations should be provided for heavily impacted bike racks, and bike parking locations should also be indicated on maps at building entrances and exits to remind people where they can find convenient parking nearby.
Bike routes and facilities need to be indicated on general campus signs. At the forum, many participants felt the new way-finding kiosks could be used to present detailed information about biking, its benefits, and services available for bicyclists. (Green Wheels corresponded with Facilities Management to share these ideas when and before the kiosks were being installed. See "Campus signage update must serve bicyclists' and bus riders' needs".)
Unsafe biking often leads to its stigmatization and a perception that it is an unsafe commute mode. One workshop participant suggested signs reading "Bike laws strictly enforced" should be installed on campus, and in conjunction with a consistent enforcement practice. Participants also agreed that such a program of strict enforcement needs to be implemented alongside programs for skills and safety education, and with the redesign of campus bike routes so they are efficient, clear, and safe. Bike laws need to be displayed or published somewhere on campus.
Signage is a particularly important component for representing HSU as a bike-friendly campus to prospective students. This impression will encourage incoming students that it is unnecessary for them to bring cars here.
Educational programs will equip commuters with the knowledge and skills to use their bike safely and happily.
The BLC is one of the great assets of our transportation community and needs to be identified and supported as such. A larger facility at a more visible and accessible location would considerably help the BLC carry out its mission to help novice and experienced bicycle mechanics. As a center of the bicycle community, the BLC is an ideal stage from which to promote and develop other transportation education programs.
One barrier to increasing the popularity of bicycling is that many commuters may be fearful or inexperienced about riding in city traffic. Even regular bike commuters may not be versed in all the regulations and etiquette to ride safely, lawfully, and courteously. January forum participants asked that an educational program be designed to encourage courteous and safe riding. A commuter skills workshop program should have two goals: (1) to provide new cyclists with the skills necessary to ride safely, enjoyably, and comfortably, and (2) to train and refresh the skills of existing cyclists in order to prevent bike accidents and facilitate courteous, lawful, and assertive bike riding. This will improve car-bike relations on the roads, and may inspire greater respect for bicyclists on the part of motorists.
A cycling skills program should thoroughly cover biking in Arcata, detailing all of Arcata's main bike routes, and should also include specific notes about bicycling in other areas and cities of Humboldt County. The course should review traffic law as it pertains to bicycles, and techniques for handling various traffic situations safely. Equipment maintenance and use must be covered, and the importance of owning and using safety equipment such as helmets and lights must be emphasized. The course should teach how to secure your bicycle using all the different bike racks on campus. It might even give a demonstration of how to secure a bike on the RTS buses.
One of the finest models for a cycling traffic skills course is the day-long "Bike to Work Skills" class in Victoria, BC, sponsored by the University of Victoria, Bike to Work Victoria, and the Victoria Capital Regional District Traffic Safety Commission. The Natural Resource Division of Redwood Community Action Agency has cited the Bike to Work program in Victoria as a model to strive for and emulate as we work to improve bicycle skills education programs for youth and adults. A half-day or longer "Bike to Work Skills" program would begin with a classroom lecture session and an instructed ride through Arcata. One workshop participant suggested a commuter skills class could be offered through the physical education department.
The Humboldt Bay Bike Commuters Association has been teaching youth BikeSmart courses for over a decade, but this program has been limited by small-scale marketing and the volunteer-status of instructors. A program with professionally-trained and paid instructors would demonstrate a significant commitment to bicycle safety and promotion. Such a program could be exclusively campus-based, funded, and managed, or it could be funded and run in conjunction with other organizations such as the Humboldt Air Quality Management District, Humboldt Bay Bike Commuters Association, and the City of Arcata. Campus promotion efforts for bicycle skills program could center on the University dorms, and course content could be designed specifically around the needs of automobile-less dormitory residents.
A mentor program would pair inexperienced bicyclists with experienced bicyclists. Bike forum participants suggested that if a mentee does not own a bike yet, mentors could advise purchasers about bicycle options. Mentor and mentees would ride together to school and discuss route options, equipment choices and maintenance, and safe riding practices. The program's intention would be to provide both an educational and fun social experience, as mentors and mentees share the joy of bicycle commuting. This program will reach a sought-after and difficult-to-reach target, the novice and unaccustomed bicycle commuter, likely making the transition from driving.
A bike mentoring program will require the development of website with information about the program and its goals, and a web application to pair novices with mentors. A phone number should also be provided so that prospective participants who may not be proficient using the web, or who have additional questions may call and speak to someone. Volunteer or perhaps even paid mentors will be enticed by the prospect of enlarging the bicycling community, the fun social experience of mentoring, and the opportunity for leadership skills development. Local bike shops may be willing to donate equipment or offer merchandise at a reduced cost to thank mentors and mentored alike for participating in the program.
Workshop participants suggested many venues through which to offer classes on bike maintenance, commuting skills, or other topics. A few suggested regularly scheduled workshops and rides through center activities. One suggestion was for a physical education class on bike commuting. Another was for CCAT-style for-credit classes listed in the course catalog. One faculty participant mentioned including bicycling in the kinesiology curriculum. Scheduling educational speakers who have done or are doing bicycle adventures for presentations could be an effective way of getting people excited about bike commuting.
As much as possible, efforts to encourage, facilitate, and support bicycling should engage academic programs and clubs on campus, as was suggested in the workshop. For example, the art and music programs could participate by designing artful bike racks or playing music at events. The graphic design program could design promotional and informational materials.
Bicycle racks are plentiful at HSU, however most bicycle commuters are dissatisfied with the bicycle security situation on campus. This is because there are other factors besides the number of racks that must be considered to fulfill the needs of cyclists. The primary issues are obsolete racks, terrain, rain, lack of information, lack of optional higher levels of security and need for additional services. For the most part, security concerns for cyclists at HSU can be addressed with new and well-placed racks, as well as bike lockers or a bike parking facility for commuters with greater security concerns for their bikes.
Firgure 2 A bike illegally locked to a railing, and another locked to a pole (background) near delapidated obsolete racks. Well-chosen bicycle rack styles and locations will reduce bicycle parking violations such as these.
Several actions need to be taken in regards to the racks on campus, in order to reduce safety concerns:
Whenever anyone begs the question of whether the racks we are installing today are the best racks, the staff-members insist that it is vital to have a consistent type of rack for the aesthetics of the campus. Yet, at this time there are four common types of bike racks on campus: “the clamp” (Figure 3), the “T”-rack without loops for U-locks, the “T”-rack with loops (Figure 4), and the new “wave” (Figure 5). Not only does this represent a lack of consistency, but many of the non-wave racks are quite dilapidated.
The clamp racks are an embarrassment to the campus. Almost no one uses them. They should be removed immediately, and if they are in a good location, replaced with new racks.
Figure 3 Clamp racks, which are rarely used.
The second oldest type of rack, a “T” rack with no loops for a U-lock to attach to, is inherently insecure with most locks. When using a standard U-lock on these racks, one generally has to lock the bike to itself with the U-lock, relying only on the easily cut cable to secure the bike to the rack.
T-racks, both with and without loops share several other problems. Many T-racks have cables with the rubber coating worn off and fraying cable which can actually puncture the cyclist’s hand. When either type of T-rack is located in a non-covered location, the rubber coating where the down-tube fits into the rack is quickly destroyed by UV rays, forcing the cyclist to scratch his or her down-tube while securing the bike. Therefore, T-racks need to be replaced as soon as possible, especially if they are in the open. If it is not possible to replace them within 3 months, the cables and rubber coating on the down-tube slot should be replaced immediately. Delays in repairing and replacing damaged and obsolete racks has probably done more than anything else to make bicycle commuters at HSU feel embattled.
Figure 4 T-racks.
These wave-style racks do have their problems. Because the racks are oriented perpendicular to the direction bikes are oriented when secured to them, they do not hold as many bikes, and it is sometimes difficult to wedge a bike through the middle of the rack. Ribbon style racks do not support a bicycle properly, as a rack should support a bicycle by two points. For this reason, cyclists sometimes line their bike up parallel with ribbon-style racks, parking their bike lengthwise along the rack (Figure 5). This significantly reduces the capacity of the rack. The use recommendation for these "ribbon"-style bike racks is to lock the rear wheel and seat-stays to the rack, but almost no HSU commuters use the rack this way. Locking the back wheel and frame with a U-lock leaves the front wheel vulnerable to theft unless it is removed and locked with the frame and rear wheel. There are plenty of other groups that have identified these same problems as we have with the "wave"-style bike rack: see the Watertown Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee blog post.
Ribbon racks can promote improper use
Figure 5 The "wave" or
"ribbon" rack which is gradually replacing other racks styles.
Since few new racks have been installed, administrators may wish to consider choosing a different default/standard rack. Parking staff has been unwilling to discuss this, and we consider it less important as long as other needs are met such as roofs for racks and bike lockers. Another idea is to incorporate art into the new bike racks. Many universities and cities have installed bike racks in fun shapes. Humboldt State could make their bike lockers look like native animals of the coast, or something more abstract. This would actually make bike parking into art, and attract existing and incoming students to bicycle commuting.
Links to other discussions about bike racks:
Recommended Racks- It is important to have
diversity on campus. There should be choices because no one rack works
for every bicycle commuter. Currently old racks are being replaced with
the new wave-style racks. However, there are other racks that use less
space and accommodate more cyclists. For example, racks shaped like
upside-down U’s oriented parallel to parked bikes tend to provide more parking
for the amount of space (Figure 6).
Figure 6 Additional rack-types HSU might consider installing.
In planning new racks for the future, it is important to be aware of the terrain. Cyclists are less likely to ride up a steep hill if they don’t have too. It is best to consider cyclists’ approach to campus and place racks that enable them to avoid hills. Cyclists like to park in a central location close to their classrooms (Figure 7)
Figure 7 Some examples of high quality rack locations.
We are aware that HSU has been planning to integrate centralized bike parking and services into a new parking garage for some time now. While it may be appropriate to centralize some services, such as lockers and showers, it would be a mistake to intensively centralize bicycle parking as one of the primary advantages of commuting to campus by bicycle is being able to arrive near to the classroom door. It would be especially unattractive for bicycle services to be offered in a parking garage. While any parking garage project should include a component improving bicycle services, those services should be well separated from the poor air quality and dreary atmosphere of a parking structure.
Next page: figure 8, inventory of bike parking quality and quantity…
Figure 8. Inventory of bike parking quality and quantity
Rain is another issue. Many cyclists do not want their bikes parked in the rain because it washes away lubrication on their drive chain, and can cause excessive rust on steel parts of the bike. Covered racks are important for this reason. With $12 million going into a new parking garage, roofs over some of the bike racks no longer seem very expensive. Chico State is already discussing covered bike racks with roofs equipped with solar panels. If we are to compete for students as an environmentally-conscious university, HSU must to do better.
Some cyclists, especially
those that commute greater distances, use bikes that are too expensive to lock
to a rack. These bikes have expensive components that can easily be
stripped off. Providing a higher level of service to long-distance
commuters who own higher quality bikes is vital. For many long distance
commuters, the only choice other than cycling is driving. Many staff,
faculty, and some graduate students break the rules by sneaking their bikes
into an office, even though bikes are not permitted in the buildings.
Bicycle lockers or a manned bike parking facility, provided for a reasonable
fee, could enable more people to make a long distance commute and safely secure
their bike. Lockers can protect an expensive bike from rain and provide a
place for the commuter to leave things, such as a helmet or extra books, so
they do not have to carry them around campus. A pilot location for bike
lockers near the College of Natural Resources and Biology Department should be
installed as soon as possible. Another prime spot would be where
the unused clamp racks are, next to Gist Hall. Charging users a small fee
could help fund the creation of this facitility.
Commuters have no safe place to put bike bags, helmets, extra clothes.
In the process of surveying
the racks on campus for this plan during winter break, we found bike locked to
poor quality racks, in the rain and vulnerable to mass theft. The few
housed bicycle parking facilities were filled to capacity, with bike nearly
piled on one another causing paint damage. No resident should be forced
to keep his or her bicycle outside at night because it leaves the bike vulnerable
to theft. To force residents to leave their bikes outside in the rain for
a month during winter break is unconscionable. Campus residents must be
provided with bike lockers or an indoor facility with adequate capacity to lock
their bike as a basic courtesy. By not providing this service, the
university could be held to account if hundreds of bikes were stolen.
It is important to light bike parking areas. This ensures that people locking and unlocking their bikes are not stuck fiddling around with a lock in some dark corner of school. Lighting also helps prevent theft of unattended parked bikes or their components.
Information for cyclists is
not easily available on campus. Kiosks located at major bike parking
areas could provide areas to post information about bicycle services.
Information posted there might include: Humboldt County bike maps, maps of
campus bike routes, parking and services, RTS schedules, information on the RTS bike-and-ride program
and information on BLC services. These kiosks should also include relevant bike
Security Needs Research & Response
A participant in the bicycle plan workshop asked if any data was available on where bikes have been stolen or stripped. Data of this type, along with use of racks to determine bicycle parking demand, need to be collected if they do not exist, and compiled. in this manner, the university can determine which locations / rack types are prone to theft, and which areas require more, or improved bike parking.
To effectively bolster the popularity of bicycle commuting and reduce parking demand, HSU needs to pursue a bicycle services and infrastructure strategy that addresses all bicycling-related issues in a coordinated way, with professionals taking the lead and drawing on the input, grass-roots energy and expertise of the HSU community. Improving services and facilities for bicyclists is a cost-effective way to reduce parking demand, far less expensive than the cost of building structured parking (estimated at over $30,000 per space). Besides cost savings, bicycle commuting is environmentally and socially responsible. It is more equitable (affordable for all), more community-friendly, and promotes health and physical fitness. Bicycle commuting is a better fit with the university's professed value that "individuals must be environmentally, economically, and socially responsible in the quest for viable and sustainable communities" (HSU strategic plan).