Students’ bicycles may not be as safe as the owners would like to think when locked to a bicycle rack on campus. There have been frequent reports of bicycle theft around campus, and, as of this semester, no suspects have been caught, according the police crime bulletins.
Students like playwriting and dramaturgy junior Matthew Padora have not let these incidents influence their decisions to ride a bicycle.
Padora lives about a mile off campus, works in Rice Village and has been riding a bicycle to school since fall 2010.
The safety of the bicycle is most dependent upon the type of lock used, Padora said.
“I use a Kryptonite U-lock, and it hasn’t failed me yet,” Padora said. “To fellow cyclists, I would never recommend using a cable lock and I would never recommend keeping it locked in the same place for an extended period.”
Marketing sophomore Charles Duncan started riding his bicycle this semester and said he rides every day except when it rains. His tactic is using two dual chains in hopes it will make his bicycle “a harder target for potential thieves,” he said. He also leaves his bicycle in areas that are more populated.
Bicycle thieves won’t keep Duncan from riding his bicycle, he said.
“What is disappointing, however, is the lacking presence of the UH police. I have yet to see one of them actually ‘walking the beat.’ This would probably be the best deterrent against bicycle thefts,” Duncan said.
Richard Bonnin, the university’s executive director of media relations, said campus safety is being taken seriously.
“There is no higher priority for the University than the safety of its students and of the UH community,” Bonnin said.
Progress is being made on the investigations, Bonnin said.
“UHDPS is actively and aggressively investigating the incidents of bicycle theft on campus,” Bonnin said. “While the details of the investigations are confidential, police believe they have identified a possible suspect or suspects in some of the recent cases.”
UHDPS and the Dean of Students Office have established a focus group chaired by Assistant Vice President for Public Safety and Security Malcolm Davis.
“The Bicycle Safety and Use Focus Group will generate a set of policies and procedures to be used by the campus community related to bicycle safety and security on campus,” Bonnin said. “This group will assess the current concerns and issues related to the storage of bicycles on the campus property as well as review the current laws and ordinances related to bicycle storage.
“They will also create the appropriate policy and/or procedure to create a safe and secure atmosphere for bicycles and their riders.”
After six months of review, the focus group will make policy suggestions for the campus community.
UHDPS also strongly encourages all students, faculty and staff to register their bicycles either in person or online at www.uh.edu/police/bike-registration/form.html.
Policy says that a bicycle is not permitted in a student’s dorm room.
This rule is under review and modification to the policies must be suggested by the Residence Hall Association, a student housing group. Their recommendations would then be evaluated by Residential Life and Housing officials.
“Residential Life and Housing officials are working with the Residence Hall Association to consider a revision that would allow bicycles in the buildings, pending approval from all roommates. To protect the integrity and appearance of the buildings, alterations, such as drilling into ceilings or walls to accommodate the bikes, would not be permitted,” Bonnin said.
“Issues of concern include tire marks on floors and damage to rooms caused by hooks, etc. Riding the bikes inside the buildings would be strictly prohibited because of obvious safety concerns.”
Within the first 14 days of this semester, there were eight reports of bicycle thefts. The locations of the thefts included Moody Towers, Farish Hall, Taub Residence Hall, Calhoun Lofts, Hofheinz Pavilion, the Athletics Alumni Center, Cullen Oaks Apartment and the Fine Arts Building. So far, no reports have been filed in February.