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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Campus Works With Club To Remove Abandoned Bikes

    Rain drenched the Stony Brook University campus late Tuesday morning, leaving students clinging to umbrellas and dodging puddles. But even weather so bleak did not deter the university officials from removing a number of bicycles from bike racks around the Academic Mall.

    The bikes, however, did not belong to anyone — not anymore, at least.

    What officials were doing that day was part of a “cooperative effort” to remove abandoned bicycles lying around the campus, according to an e-mail from Bob Woodruff, assistant director for Facilities and Services.

    The parties involved in the effort include the University Police Department, the Office of Recycling and Resource Management, Campus Operations and Maintenance, and the Freewheel Collective — a student club on campus. All of these departments came together and formed a program that the Freewheel Collective called on its blog, “Liberate-Reuse-Recycle.”

    The program involves identifying, removing and rebuilding the several abandoned bikes on the university campus, according to the e-mail from Woodruff. The e-mail also explained the process.

    First, university police tags suspected bicycles — that the police, campus building managers or maintenance employees consider to be abandoned — with hot pink tags. These tags notify the owners that they must contact the police about the status of their bike. If the department does not receive a call, it assumes the bike is abandoned.

    When the bike is considered abandoned, it is put up for removal. University police, along with the Office of Recycling and Resource Management and Campus Operations and Maintenance then pass the bike onto the Freewheel Collective. There the collective tries to repair the bikes or use their parts for other bikes. The repaired bikes are then available for any member of their club to use. Because it is an on-campus club, any student can join.

    “The Freewheel guys have [recovered] the bikes and been able to give them to people who need it,” said Woodruff.

    Adam Ehmer, the club’s coordinator, said he thought the Liberate-Reuse-Recycle program has been going well. The club has converted 10 of the approximately 30 bikes they have received so far into usable bikes or parts, he said. The leftover parts will be recycled.

    A lot of these deserted bikes, according to Woodruff’s e-mail, are left chained to bike racks, buildings, benches, light posts and other various places around campus each semester. This is detrimental to the university for many reasons, Ehmer said.

    Ehmer said they prevent people from actively using the racks, and when they are attached to “non-rack” objects like light posts and benches, they are hazardous to other people, especially the disabled. “I think [removing them] has multiple benefits,” he said. Removing the bikes eliminates the risk to others, and it ensures that the bikes are either converted or recycled, he added.

    To safeguard against the recycling of a bike that an owner still wants, Woodruff said that there is a one-week window for owners to claim their bike after it has been removed. During the one week, the bike is held in storage, he said. After that, however, it is released to the collective.

    Ehmer said, though, that if an owner comes to claim a bike that has already been sent to them, the collective could work with the owner to sort things out. They might get the bike back, or they might get a new, refurbished one, he said.

    The mission of the Freewheel Collective “is to encourage people to ride bicycles by educating current and potential bicyclists how to repair and maintain their bicycle,” according to the club’s website. “Freewheel hopes to establish a working community bicycle shop which will repair donated and found bicycles [and] offer free and/or low-cost repairs and bicycle education programs.”

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