Wheels in motion towards a bike friendly campus

In a futuristic bike haven, cyclists would ride to their destination on clouds where a plethora of valet attendants would be waiting to take one's bike, so they could go off to class and be assured that it will be there when they get back. Unfortunately, nobody knows what the future will hold, so for now students ride to school and search for a place to lock up their bikes.

This begs to ask; do we need more safe places to lock up our bikes? Yes, we need more bike racks and the current ones need to be upgraded.

Personally, I depend on my bicycle and see firsthand how many people actually ride their bikes to school and it's a lot of students.

The go-to spots on the Santa Monica College main campus are by the HSS building and the career services center, while the other eight, smaller locations around the campus are almost always filled to the brim.

At one spot, bikes were even stacked on top of one another. A couple of bikes weren’t latched to anything, with only their back wheel locked up so nobody could ride off with the bike.

If one were in a hurry and couldn't find a place to park at their usual location, a simple solution to some would be to lock up their bike to a railing because it would be most accessible.

But beware, if you’re bike isn’t locked up at a bike rack, it can be impounded by the police, where you have to pay a $10 to $15 fee to get it back.

As of now, the police have yet to enforce the fee.

SMC student Daniel Aron didn’t know about the impound rule and mentioned that he is sometimes forced to park at a location far from his class.

It is understandable that if bikes are illegally parked, it can be a safety hazard.

SMC should be more stern with notices of the impound rules, informing students of this policy, so they can avoid any unnecessary costs.

Currently, there are no notices on any of the bike racks on campus.

In total, the bike racks can accommodate approximately 600 bikes.

Keep in mind that last fall we had over 31,000 students enrolled at SMC. According to the SMC website, roughly 82.5 percent of students are on the main campus.

When you do the math, if 600 students ride to school, that wouldn’t even be three percent of the student body.

On a campus that is pushing for alternative transportation, one would think they would be able to a lot for more than three percent of students to bike to school.

According to Jeffrey Peterson, director of campus operations at SMC, the school's District Planning and Advisory Council, have taken into account the school's increase in bike traffic and have requested up to eight more bike racks on campus.

Peterson adds that the estimated costs for the new racks are currently being considered. If this proposal goes through, they should also add the locations to the campus maps to keep students aware.

In the most recent Associated Students board meeting, the topic was brought up and it was mentioned that the AS wanted adequate facilities to support a bike-friendly campus.

The AS even decided to form a committee regarding safe routes to bike to campus and other related topics, like the bike lock dilemma. The lack of better bike locks on campus is another part of the issue.

Some allow you to lock up the frame and front wheel, which is a lot more secure than the wheel only bike locks. These are hard to properly place your bike in and are easy targets for theft.

So far this semester, the campus police have indicated that there have been only three bike thefts, but sometimes it isn’t always the whole bike that is taken, but parts of it.

Student Kyle Miyamoto doesn’t lock his bike up anymore because the handlebars were stolen. Instead he takes his bike to class with him, a practice that could get his bike impounded.

Having a bike valet isn’t such a far-fetched idea.

According to the City of Santa Monica website, “FREE bike valets are available at the Main Street Farmers Market and numerous city events.”

There is even a bike center opening right here in Santa Monica at 4th and Broadway, where they will offer indoor parking and other bike related services to paying members.

Let’s be honest, a free bike valet or biking center might be out of the question for SMC, but what if the AS charged a small fee, maybe $5 a semester and provided funding of their own?

This could be similar to the parking permits students buy each semester, except this would be one way to support alternative transportation for SMC students and the school's emphasis on environmental sustainability.