by Nabhanya Morarji
UT’s Rick Thomas Parking Garage, located on North Boulevard Street, is one of two main parking garages on campus for students and faculty. In addition to parking spaces for cars, there is a separate facility on the first floor that is equipped with bike racks. Students with valid permits for their bikes are able to access this facility to store their bikes.
Directly across from this space is another bike cage. This storage area is for bikes that have been abandoned on campus or do not have a permit. These bikes are seized by campus safety at the end of each semester calendar year.
There has been some speculation on campus about what happens to the bikes once they are seized. Rumors range from the bikes being dismantled and sold for parts to being thrown out – neither of which are true.
Samuel Ponce, Assistant Director of Campus Safety, stated that these bikes are organized by the year they were seized. Ponce further mentioned that the bikes are taken to a salvage location if no one has claimed them after one year.
“We have [also] worked with non-profit organizations, such as God’s Pedal Power Ministry, to provide these bikes to them,” said Ponce. “This organization provides bicycles to the homeless population in Tampa.”
According to UT’s website, all students, faculty and staff are encouraged to register their bicycles. The registration process ensures a timely notification to the owner of the bike in case any issue arises.
“Honestly, I never thought about what they did with the bikes that went unclaimed,” said Adeline Davis, senior English literature major. “I’m glad you’re writing an article on this because it’s something that needs to be publicized, especially if people don’t know their bikes will be taken away if they don’t have permits.”
Many students on campus are unaware that campus safety has the right to seize their bikes. Some did not know that their bikes have to be registered with campus safety as well as Tampa Police Department.
“I’m not sure if they tell bike owners about the policy when they get their permits, but letting them know seems like a no-brainer,” said Abby Nelson, junior English literature major.
While there was some debate between Davis and Nelson regarding campus safety’s notification procedure, both were in agreement that it is a good decision to donate the bikes to charity and to those in need.
“I’m glad to know they donate the bikes to people in need, especially those who use bikes as their only form of transportation,” said Davis. “It’s definitely a good way to give back to our community, especially since our university is in the middle of downtown Tampa. It’s all too easy to turn a blind eye to people in need, so I hope the donations bring awareness to the cause.”
Nabhanya Morarji can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org