Students coming back to find their locks cut and their bikes missing may want to hesitate before calling the Community Service Organization (CSO) to catch the thieves.
CSO, a division within UCSB Police Dept., started impounding illegally parked bikes this week. Valerie Garcia, a CSO officer, said the campaign is part of UCSB’s adoption of the California Vehicle Code, Section 21113 (f). CSO’s policy, which it derived from the state code, states that it can take possession of any bike that blocks or impedes traffic in any street, highway, roadway path or sidewalk; blocks or impedes normal entrance to or exit from any building on campus; appears to be abandoned; or has been reported stolen. Students can retrieve their impounded bikes at the CSO office behind the Public Safety Building in Lot 32 after paying a $24 fee.
Garcia said the restrictions help to keep the campus safe.
“Most of the areas that are restricted from bicycle parking need to be kept clear for fire emergencies or other safety concerns,” Garcia said. “Common trouble spots constitute the railing across from the HSSB and the narrow street between Kerr Hall and North Hall, where bikes block access and force people off the walkways into dangerous areas like the bike path or the street.”
As of Wednesday, CSO officers have seized about 13 bikes as part of CSO’s quarterly effortto revamp the bike parking problems on campus, Garcia said. CSO refrains from impounding bikes during the first three weeks of each quarter to allow students to familiarize themselves with which areas are appropriate for bike parking and which areas are not, she said.
“If a bike is illegally parked, we will place a warning tag on the bike and even relocate it to a nearby rack,” she said. “Students have fair warning as to whether or not their bike is illegally parked. We don’t do it for fun; there is a ton of paperwork involved in impounding and relocating a bicycle, but if their is a bike parked right next to a sign that says, ‘Your bike will be impounded,’ we will impound the bike.”
After the grace period, the organization makes daily sweeps through campus, placing orange warning stickers on bikes parked illegally. CSO comes back later in the day to pick up any bikes not removed.
CSO officers use large bolt cutters to cut the lock off the bike and it is transported to the organization’s headquarters. Garcia said the bike is held for 90 days after which the bike becomes CSO property and is subject to auction.
Some students still park their bikes outside of the designated racks, even at the risk of having them confiscated. Jonathan Rys, a junior political science major, parks his bike against the restricted railing across from the Humanities and Social Sciences Building (HSSB). He said he knows it is illegal to leave his bike there.
“[I park here] because they never do anything about it,” Rys said. “The problem is there are not enough bike racks. I have class right in the HSSB and the closest bike racks are far away and usually filled up. I don’t see anything wrong with parking my bike here and I don’t think it is a safety hazard.”
Kathryn Urquhart, an undeclared second-year student, also parks her bike along the restricted railing next to HSSB. She said also the nearest bike racks are far away and are always filled.
“The last time I parked my bike [at the rack next to the Arts Building], there were too many bikes and I couldn’t get my bike out,” she said. “I am not a strong person, so I can’t lift a bunch of bikes if my own is covered or stuck. I used to park next to the Dramatic Arts Building, but after they closed that down, I have begun to park here.”
Garcia said CSO is not responsible for installing more bike racks.
“We have tried to get the university to install more bike racks, but they haven’t done so,” she said.