A recent police beat published in the last issue of the Bullet reported eight petit larcenies of bicycles on campus in addition to the three bicycles reported stolen this week, which have given inspiration for a new program idea, a “bike share” program.
According to James DeLoatch, office manager of the university police, even though many of these larcenies have been students “borrowing” bikes that have been left unlocked, it is still considered stealing.
“Theft of a bike is classified as taking or removing of someone’s property in which the owner had no knowledge of and did not give permission for use,” said DeLoatch.
The bikes that are registered to the university are returned to the student after being reported stolen, according to DeLoatch.
He attributes the increased number of stolen bikes to the heavy course load and extra-curriculars that many students are taking, which leads students to leave bikes unlocked.
Freshman Leila Gustavsson has been affected by the bike thefts.
“My suitemate had her bike stolen from her,” said Gustavsson.
Fortunately Gustavsson found her suitemate’s bike a few days later outside of Mason.
“We would like to continue to educate students about securing their personal property in order to decrease unauthorized usage,” said DeLoatch.
Due to the number of students who use bikes to get to-and-from class, DeLoatch has concerns and ideas for the bikes on campus. He suggests that students should register their bikes so that if they are stolen, they are easier to recover.
Additionally, DeLoatch has noticed that when spring semester ends, students often leave their bikes behind when they head home. These bikes are then stored in the Alvey parking deck and often are not reclaimed.
DeLoatch has come up with a plan to limit the amount of unclaimed bikes, which he terms a “Bike Share” Program.
This program will benefit the aesthetics and sustainability of the University of Mary Washington, and promote a healthier campus, according to DeLoatch.
“Campus looks very messy with bikes lying around,” said DeLoatch.
DeLoatch envisions bike stations throughout campus where students can use their Eagleone card to swipe and retrieve a bike and be charged a small fee per hour. They can then bike to class and leave the bike at the next station.
Freshman Daniel Sheehy experienced a program like this when he visited Barcelona, Spain with his family.
“I’ve seen it in action and know people love having the option,” said Sheehy. “They were all over the city.”
DeLoatch wants to implement this program to decrease the amount of cars and the University’s carbon footprint. He wants to increase the community feel and believes that the program will be an added step that will help draw prospective students to UMW.
DeLoatch hopes that the program will help decrease the amount of bike theft on campus and make things better for students overall.
However, DeLoatch does recognize the drawbacks and obstacles that will come along with promoting the program.
DeLoatch is concerned with who will fund it and what the maintenance will entail. He also does not yet know who would be responsible for such a program.
However, DeLoatch knows that student input is important on getting the process moving.
For some students, the program would be welcome and beneficial.
“I have a lot of friends who wish they had bikes,” said Sheehy. “If it were to be done, it should be done with Eagleone. It would be most effective because it is an all-purpose device.”
For other students, the program would not be worth it to them.
“I would rather just use my bike because I don’t want to pay,” said Gustavsson.