Bikes are a popular and convenient mode of transportation at the University of Houston. Too often, however, abandoned bicycles are left chained to racks across campus.
Now, these unattended and unused bicycles are finding new riders thanks to an innovative partnership between UH’s Department of Public Safety (UHDPS) and Facilities Management. Both departments oversee the University’s bicycle abatement program. This initiative — started in 2013 — collects deserted bikes and donates them to local charity organizations.
Craig Whitfield, UH Facilities manager, identifies and tags the abandoned bicycles. UHDPS and Facilities Management staff members then begin the process of cutting locks and taking the tagged bikes to the campus impound lot. Bikes not claimed after 60 days are then donated to local organizations, including the Self-Help for African People Through Education (SHAPE) Center, Humble Independent School District, Chain Reaction Ministries and Light House Baptist Church. How can you tell if a bike is “abandoned?” Whitfield identifies them by wear and tear — rusted chains, flat tires, broken pedals, missing parts. More times than not, bikes have been left on campus simply because they are in need of repair, he said.
“Removing these bikes contributes to the beautification of the campus and frees up space on the racks,” Whitfield said. “Also, having unattended bicycles often breeds theft on campus. Abandoned bikes are more likely to be stolen because no one will notice. ”
To help address the root problem and reduce the number of such broken down bikes, a repair station was installed last Fall at Cougar Village 2. The station is available to all bike-riding Coogs and includes air pumps, tools and a bicycle stand. Facilities Management is also exploring a possible program that would help teach campus bicyclists how to make simple bike repairs.
Cougar riders are encouraged to register their bikes with UHDPS. When bikes are registered, UHDPS records serial numbers and descriptive information. This is helpful when recovering stolen or missing bicycles on campus. Bikes can be registered in person at the UHDPS station on Wheeler Avenue or online at uh.edu/police.