‘Bike booting’ to take effect in spring with revised code

Bicycles left chained up to lamp posts, stairs and other improper areas could wind up booted with a lock if a revised University bicycle code is approved.

Students have the opportunity to give feedback on the code on the iCAP portal website until the end of September.

“Bike booting” is the same as when a boot gets put on a car for parking in the wrong place. However, in this case, a University boot will be placed on repeat bike parking offenders, and students will have to pay a fee to get it unlocked.

Morgan Johnston, sustainability coordinator for Facilities and Services, recalled stopping a student to ask why he was parking his bicycle on a chain fence instead of in the bike racks. His reply was that it saved him six seconds, she said.

“This parking in the wrong place reminds me of speeding in your car,” Johnston said. “You’re at risk, and you’re going to be delayed more by getting an enforcement officer to stop you.”

The bike code has not been updated since 1989, and the new bike code will go into effect after spring break this year.

University police Deputy Chief Skip Frost said the increase of bike traffic due to sustainability initiatives and the “bicycle-friendly” designation on campus has led to injuries and conflict with pedestrians. He said he was made aware of a woman getting hit by a bicycle and breaking her arm, as well as other injuries.

“We recognized that we had an issue,” Frost said. “The first step we wanted to get involved in was updating the University bicycle ordinances, and then also to start increasing our education and enforcement campaigns as well.”

Frost said people riding bicycles needed to realize they had to obey the laws just like a vehicle — meaning stopping at stop signs, signaling when turning and not going the wrong way down a one-way street.

The cities of Champaign and Urbana have rules separate from the University, but Amelia Neptune, Campus Bicycle Coordinator, said the University’s plan was for specific campus-related issues like bicycle registration and parking in non-street areas.

“Really, what we’re trying to do is make it a safer environment for the benefit of all modes of transportation,” Neptune said.

According to the current code, bicycles will be impounded if they aren’t registered. But Neptune said because it’s an unrealistic policy, it isn’t strictly implemented and will not be a part of the revised code.

She said the new way of enforcement for bike registration will result in an additional fine if the bike is being ticketed for something else.

“One of the first things we hear when we do bicycle enforcement is ‘don’t you have anything better to do?’” Frost said. “Yes, we absolutely have better things to do, which is why we want people to voluntarily comply. It’s a public safety issue, and obviously we take this very seriously, and we will do what’s necessary to keep everybody safe.”

Claire can be reached at [email protected]