Fed up with the shortage of parking space for bicycles on the University of Wisconsin campus, Laura Schmidli, a UW Information Services librarian, decided to make her frustrations known by documenting her attempt at finding bike parking Wednesday afternoon at Union South.
Hundreds of bicycles around Union South are seen in three minutes of shaky video footage, where Schmidli pointed to hundreds of bikes, many illegally parked, and only three open spaces.
“I can generally find parking in the morning, but if I take my bike to meetings across campus, I have a difficult time finding parking when I return,” Schmidli said. “I imagine that this is also a problem for students, particularly if they are trying to get to classes on time.”
Schmidli said she has been in contact with UW Transportation Services and they told her they would be introducing higher density bike racks around campus.
Bike parking has been a recurring issue around campus for many years, Dar Ward, UW commuter solutions manager, said. This is not the first year the university has seen a greater demand than supply for bicycle parking, Ward said.
Ward said bike parking has multiple issues, ranging from competing interests of space and the need for sidewalks, green space and benches.
“We have a very dense and urban campus here at Madison, so it can be very hard for people to find parking around the campus area,” Ward said.
A survey is put out every two years to ask university students, staff, faculty and hospital members what modes of transportation they use, and Ward said between 10,000 to 14,000 people report using bikes.
Currently, UW has just fewer than 13,000 parking stalls on campus, which means at times there may not be enough parking for the demand on campus, Ward said. UW Transportation Services is working on adding about 1,500 extra parking stalls on campus over the next few years to fulfill the increased demand for bike parking, she said.
Issues with bike parking are not unique to the UW campus; there is a high demand for bike parking around the entire city than is available at the moment, Ward said.
Problematic spots around campus for bike parking include the intersections of Charter Street and Linden Avenue and Memorial Union, Ward said.
Schmidli said she would like to see additional covered bicycle parking around campus in the form of both public racks in covered areas and the cages and lockers that UW Transportation Services has available for a fee as well.
Schmidli also said she wishes the campus had more secure parking in multiple locations.
“Because there is not enough bicycle parking, there’s more of a chance that bicycles will be damaged as other cyclists force their bikes into crowded spots,” Schmidli said. “I’ve had my brake cables get pulled, frayed and disconnected, and a colleague’s bike derailleur was completely bent.”
If the campus implemented more efficient and permanent bicycle racks it would bring greater security for bikers on campus, Schmidli said.
Watch Schmidli’s video here: