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Putting the brakes on bike theft

Two new initiatives aim to give cyclists more peace of mind when parking their equipment on campus.

The university will construct its first secure bicycle parking facility near the courtyard between Mackintosh-Corry Hall and Dunning Hall. Additionally, Queen’s now offers a bicycle registration system that will help reconnect owners with their bicycles when they are recovered by police or found by other people.

The university is enhancing bike security by adding a secure storage facility and creating a registration system. (Photo by Charis Ho)

Leah Kelley, Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainability 2014-15, Alma Mater Society (AMS), says the secure storage addresses one of the major barriers to active transportation on campus. A 2012 report by School of Urban and Regional Planning students found that 83.5 per cent of survey respondents said that the addition of secure bicycle parking would encourage them to cycle more.

“Biking infrastructure is always a key issue of importance due to the large number of students who cycle to campus during the year,” says Ms. Kelley (Artsci’16). “Bike safety in particular is of great concern due high theft rates, which is why students are so excited to see the first step towards improving bike security at Queen’s come to fruition.”

Take the Commuter Challenge
Cycling to and from campus is one of several ways the Queen’s community can participate in the Commuter Challenge May 31-June 6.
The event encourages Canadians to leave their car at home and walk, take the bus, cycle or carpool to get where they are going.
Visit the Commuter Challenge website to sign up.

The secure facility will accommodate approximately 70 bikes and be enclosed by 10-foot-high steel fences. Members who register to park their bikes in that area will swipe a key fob or their staff card to access the facility. They are strongly encouraged to lock their bicycles to the racks inside the secure area. 

Construction on the facility is slated to begin shortly and open by September. Financial support for the project came from Housing and Hospitality Service’s Sustainability Fund and the AMS’ Sustainability Action Fund.

Staff and faculty will have to pay $50 annually or $30 per term (fall, winter, or spring/summer) to park their bicycles in the area. For students, the charge is $30 per year or $20 per term (fall, winter, or spring/summer). Visit the Sustainability Office website to register.

Additional deterrence

Fourth-year computing students Luke Dowker, Adriaan Hoekman and David Jiang developed the bicycle registration system for an independent project in CISC 498. Staff, faculty and students can log into the system using their NetID and register their bicycles using the serial number, a photograph and other information. They can also use the system to report a stolen bicycle. The system produces a stolen-bicycle report that can be forwarded to the local police and other stolen goods registries. Anyone who finds a bicycle can search the registry to see if it has been reported stolen.

“Anything we can do to reduce bicycle thefts is a good thing,” says Neal Scott, a professor in the Department of Geography and president of Cycle Kingston, an organization that promotes cycling safety education in Kingston. “The students did a great job creating an easy-to-use system that will hopefully make thieves think twice about stealing a bike on campus.

"Students, staff and faculty are encouraged to register their bicycles even if they do not bring them to campus," he adds.