More bike racks necessary before bike booting is initiated

Bike boots: That’s right, they’re not just for cars!

As reported in The Daily Illini last week, the University announced it could begin the process of “bike booting” if the revised University bike code is approved, which would take effect after spring break 2014. The goal of this policy is to deter the locking of bikes to non bike rack structures around campus.

We understand why these laws may be eventually essential, but at the moment, this new rule clearly has gotten ahead of the actual biking infrastructure in place and the improvements in progress.

Here’s the thing: We don’t think most bikers relish the idea of locking their bikes to fences, bannisters or trees. Indeed, the bigger problems are the lack of adequate, strategically placed bike racks in high traffic areas, especially the Quad, and the dismal nature of many existing racks.

The assumption is that we have an abundance of usable, conveniently placed bike racks that students are simply reluctant to use. However, as pristine as our biking infrastructure may one day be, that just isn’t the case. With the University fully committed to revamping the biking infrastructure on campus, we’d like to offer a few suggestions, starting with the bike rack issue.

First, why aren’t there strategically placed bike racks on the Quad? There is no shortage of space in front of all the buildings on the Quad. After all, we imagine the University would rather have bikes on actual bike racks instead of affixed to the chained posts in front of such buildings as Gregory Hall and Lincoln Hall. And while this point centers on the Quad, there are many other areas on campus sorely in need of better-placed (and functional) bike racks.

Second, can we finally get a dedicated Quad bike lane? (And yes, in case anyone was wondering, it is perfectly legal to bike on the Quad.) As much as the University may want to steer bikers away from the Quad, especially during pedestrian-clogged passing periods, we don’t think that’s a very realistic goal.

However, two paths with barriers, separated but running parallel to the two main north-south paths, could be a possible solution. We realize there is no absolute guarantee pedestrians wouldn’t get onto these paths from time to time, much to bikers’ chagrin. However, high enough barriers with selective entrance points certainly could deter such activity.

Third, when the University decides to start a new building project, it should also consider campus bikers. The construction fences around Smith Memorial Hall block off an entire section of bike racks that students could be using. An easy solution would be to either not block off these racks or place temporary racks nearby.

Let’s look at another example: There’s a bike path that runs along Armory Avenue, but only for the two blocks closest to the Quad. It would be helpful to have bike paths throughout Champaign to make it easier for pedestrians and cyclists to commute.

Those are just some of our ideas, but we strongly encourage other campus cyclists to share their thoughts with the University. Facilities and Services will be accepting comments on the University Bike Code and other biking matters through the end of September. The online form can be accessed at: https://illinois.edu/fb/sec/1328698. Cyclists, make your voices heard!