Police unveil bike plan

The program aims to curb bike thefts and enforce parking and riding rules.

Greg Corradini

Bike riders and thieves beware.

The University Police Department officially rolled out its new bike monitor program today in an effort to curb bike thefts and enforce parking and riding rules on campus.

Ben Schnabel, the University’s Security Monitor Program manager, said bicycle monitor duties will include patrolling bike racks and making sure bikes are locked up in the proper locations and manner.

The bike monitor program is a division of the Security Monitor Program, and all of its employees are student monitors, he said.

But unlike other security monitors, Schnabel said, bike monitors will have the authority to issue citations for disobeying certain University ordinances.

One of those ordinances prohibits locking bikes to trees and shrubbery, he said.

Another ordinance forbids locking bikes where a sign indicates they should not be locked.

And a third ordinance forbids parking bikes in prohibited locations, which are defined as places that limit access to building entrances, handicap ramps and fire lanes, among other areas.

All violations are currently a $33 fine, Schnabel said, but the amount can sometimes change.

“Ultimately, this is about making people on campus more aware of what they should be doing with their bikes and how they can protect them,” he said.

Bike monitors will start issuing moving citations, such as for unsafe operation and riding in pedestrian areas, later this year, he said.

Troy Buhta, a lieutenant with the University Police Department, said five security monitors went through a training program with the department’s bike patrol officers, receiving approximately 10 hours of training on bike maintenance and safety, he said.

More bike monitors will be added to the program later, he said.

The bike monitors will only patrol and cite on University property, Buhta said.

Although the bike monitors only work day shifts, Buhta said, the police will eventually design a 24-hour bike monitor program.

“Unfortunately, we can’t be everywhere, and this will give us more eyes and ears out there to watch these bike racks,” Buhta said.

Dan Hainje, a first-year student and new bike monitor, said that he rides a Raleigh mountain bike during his free time.

He said he wanted to become a bike monitor to stop bike tampering and thefts.

“I think people have the right to lock up their bikes and not to worry about getting their tires kicked in,” Hainje said.

The worst part of the job, he said, will be riding in the rain.

Girma Dinssa, a Medical School student, said he is unsure if any security precautions, such as bike monitors, can deter theft.

Dinssa said that he rode his 6-month-old Vertical bike to the bus stop all of the time before catching a bus to work.

Approximately two weeks ago, Dinssa said, he locked the bike up to a pole and returned to find it missing.

“From now on, I don’t feel it is safe to park on the University area,” Dinssa said.

Richard Orr, the Minnesota Student Association Academics and Services Committee chairman, said the program might work in with an MSA Web site that is still being designed.

The Web site, called “Goldy’s Locker,” would allow students to register any valuables that have serial numbers, such as bikes.

Orr said he spoke with Steve Johnson, deputy police chief for the University Police Department, about how the MSA Web site and the bike monitoring system could work together.

After a bike-theft victim reports a stolen bike and fills out an actual police report, Orr said, the bike’s serial number would be put into the police records system.

If someone finds that bike, the police and security monitors would link the serial number with the owner and return the bike, he said.