Western management wails against bikes on rails

Students biking to campus will have to confine their bikes exclusively to the racks this year. Western’s facilities management has prohibited students from chaining their bikes to railings, like the one running along UC Hill.

“The bicycles being locked on railings and lampposts and trees have been an issue for several years, and we’re getting more complaints about bikes restricting traffic,” Jim Galbraith, supervisor grounds and recycling for facilities management, said. “It’s a concern for pedestrian traffic on the sidewalks.”

Signs have been placed at various trouble spots around campus, such as the railing at the bottom of UC Hill, the ramp near the University Community Centre and the Saugeen walkway.

“[The procedure] is something that needs to be worked on. We would like to put a tag on the bike saying to please remove it,” Galbraith said. “If it’s a safety issue, the police will assist us. The lock can be cut and the police will store it in their compound.”

However, the prohibition has irked some members of Western’s biking community. Kevin Yaraskavitch, president of Purple Bikes, said he felt bikers were simply responding to a lack of bike racks in these areas.

“The one bike rack in that area is hidden in a stone garden next to the entrance that’s very uneven, difficult to get to and fills up quickly,” Yaraskavitch said. “A lot of people have taken to parking their bikes [at the rail], and it used to get really full. Now they’ve taken that opportunity away and haven’t installed a new bike rack to compensate for it.”

Galbraith said facilities management would consider adding more bike racks. “We would look into that—our bike racks are spread out all over campus and we watch how they’re being used,” Galbraith said. “We respond with what we think is going to work best and it changes every year.”

Yaraskavitch explained far from understanding the concern, he liked the sight of bikes chained to the railing on UC Hill. “I personally enjoy seeing that people are biking to campus and leading healthy active lifestyles.”

He did, however, agree with the prohibitory signs at the Saugeen walkway. “There’s a bunch of bike racks there, so it’s probably reasonable.”

Galbraith urged students to obey the prohibition regardless of consequences, or lack thereof.

“Students have to realize when they lock a bike to a tree it can restrict our grounds keeping program. It can cause a lot of issues for people walking along the sidewalk,” Galbraith said. “It creates a hardship for a lot of people on campus.”