MSA takes on bicycle theft

Bike theft is a campus problem that needs more attention from the community.

Bikes are the main means of transportation for many students at and around the University. During fall and spring seasons, there are almost as many people choosing to use bikes as there are people choosing to walk to class. Bikes provide a semiswift mode of transportation around the University, going where cars can’t, and, most importantly, going faster than the average walker.

Many students depend on bikes. A student who wakes up to find his or her bike stolen has to quickly avert to alternate transportation for the day and likely invest in a new bike or better walking shoes. Also, bike theft makes students feel unsafe.

Many University students have been affected by bike theft. In a survey conducted by the Leadership, You and Your Community (EdPA 3302/PA 3961), 84 out of 500 students had bikes stolen during their years at the University. Of those who reported the theft, 58 percent felt the University police did not take them seriously. Bike theft isn’t as exciting and racy as other crimes, per se, but it is a real problem on campus.

Police do often recover stolen bikes, but most are not registered. It is a never-ending scramble to recover stolen and unregistered bikes and match them with their owners. Many are later bid off in the city auction. Most bikes are stolen just for fun – not chopped and sold for parts – and then ditched soon after, though sellable bikes are often sold at online auctions.

Bike theft is a continuing problem that we never seem to make progress toward solving. Creating a more-educated rider community will create a safer environment for all students. The Minnesota Student Association is working on a plan to increase rider awareness and lower the number of bike thefts around campus. To accomplish this, it plans to educate riders about bike registration. Every bike has one, and not many students know about them. The number can be used by police to track, and, more importantly, return bicycles to their proper owners when found. MSA is also looking into ways to educate riders about theft prevention.

MSA’s ideas should help lower the number of thefts and increase returns. But this is all contingent on student participation and action. Hopefully, between efforts from MSA, the police and students, the University community will see less bike theft.