Impounded bikes unidentifiable at Orchard Downs

Behind the maintenance warehouse at Orchard Downs, dozens of impounded student bikes sit in the open.

These bikes were taken because they were illegally parked or interfered with construction projects. Under the system, maintenance workers can only rely on the students’ word when they come to reclaim their bikes.

Ray Ligocki, housing maintenance inspector, said it is frustrating when students come to reclaim their bike. There is no way to prove their ownership, he said.

“There is really no policy when students come here,” Ligocki said. “Bikes are supposed to be tagged. Our folks bring the (impounded bicycles) here, and when students come, we give them the bike they claim is theirs.”

There have been instances where a student will take a bike and the next day another student will come and can’t find his or her bike, Ligocki said. The bikes are locked in at night but are still vulnerable to theft, Ligocki said.

Many of the impounded bicycles came from the residence halls, where new construction required bike racks to be relocated. Students are given a minimum of 24-hours notice if their bikes must be moved for construction, said Chuck Edmison, maintenance inspector at the Peabody Drive and Taft-Van Doren residence halls.

It is another issue if the bikes are parked illegally.

“If the bikes are parked in an area that is unsafe, they have to be cut off and removed. No notification,” Edmison said. “They can be removed from anywhere that is not a designated parking area.”

Edmison keeps a record of every bicycle he impounds by brand name, speeds and color. If students can describe the bike they should be able to get it from Orchard Downs, he said.

Without Edmison’s list, the maintenance employees at Orchard Downs do not have an official system for pairing student with bike.

“I don’t know the student. I don’t know the bike,” Ligocki said.

Morgan Johnston, transportation demand management coordinator for campus, said under policy, an impounded bicycle will be disposed as abandoned property after 30 days, although Ligocki said some bikes have been at Orchard Downs for years.

Edmison said the problem would not exist if students would register their bicycles.

Students can register their bikes in person at the Parking Department, which is in the Public Safety Building at the corner of Springfield and Goodwin avenues in Urbana, Johnston said.

Johnston also said she is proposing an online bike registration system to be implemented in the next year.

Since the bike racks around the Peabody Drive and Taft-Van Doren residence halls were moved, the number of impounded bikes has decreased, Edmison said.

Edmison recently had to remove a couple of bikes locked to a fence surrounding an emergency generator on the east side of Scott Hall.

“I strongly recommend that all students register their bike and park them in designated areas,” Edmison said.

“I’d love it if I could park my truck closer than a block and a half away, but there are rules and that is the way things are.”