UISG wants bike shelters, but cost might be too much


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Brett Hanson loves his bike, but he hates leaving it outside during the winter.

Many University of Iowa students feel the same way, UI Student Government officials say. That's something they may soon fix.


A UISG Student Services Committee representative recently attended an Associated Residence Hall meeting, and students said they wanted bike shelters outside the residence halls.

"Getting snow on your bike, sometimes it freezes on the chain," Hanson said. "It would be convenient … around campus, going to class."

Ellen Gardner, a member of the Student Services Committee, said UISG senators are working out the logistics of a possible construction project to build shelters around the residence-hall bike racks.

But UI officials said no one from UISG has approached them about the project.

David Ricketts, the director of UI Parking and Transportation, said there haven't been any recently proposed projects to cover significant bicycle parking spaces.

"Anytime you want to build any kind of structure on campus, you'll have to look at the architecture," Ricketts said. "One of your challenges is how much it's going to cost to make it, architecturally."

Ricketts said the UI already has some covered parking spaces in the UI Hospitals and Clinics parking ramps 2 and 4 and in the IMU parking ramp.

He said the UI has looked into covering the bike racks outside residence halls before, but cost is a significant issue. Shelters do not produce any revenue or reduce parking demand by cars.

The cost varies, but shelters are typically built where there is already a parking structure. Ricketts said one structure near the hospital cost $170,000 to cover "not that many bike parking spaces."

Nate Van Der Weide, president of Bicyclists of Iowa City, said bike racks in parking ramps don't do much to alleviate the problem.

"You wouldn't leave bikes in [ramps] for an extended period of time," Van Der Weide said. "There's certainly not enough room inside."

Ricketts agreed.

"You run into space issues [on campus]," he said. "You probably wouldn't put it on the Pentacrest. It wouldn't be used all year round. And there aren't that many bikes on campus. Part of it is because of the weather. The majority stop in the middle of winter."

Van Der Weide said he's been exposed to a lot of bikes damaged by rain and snow.

"If it's raining on a bike chain, then it dries, and it rains again and dries again, it's just going to rust very quickly," Van Der Weide said.

Van Der Weide said all weather conditions can affect a bike's functionality regardless of the season.

"Bikes disintegrate more quickly [outside] than if they were covered," he said. "It would save students money in the long term by having their bikes covered every day, and not just in the winter."

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