We’re seeing activism for bikes all over Auckland, and we’re loving it. Sadly the genesis of this story comes from a troubled place.
Bike theft at the University of Auckland has reached outrageous levels… but the powers that be (in the form of the security service, UniSafe) are not showing much interest. Apparently CCTV for bike storage areas is not in their ‘can do’ tool box.
We’re hoping a bit of publicity and united voices will help a bastion of this town notice that life on campus doesn’t always match its ‘world ranked’ rhetoric, nor its status as, ideally, one of the most inventive and forward-thinking places in the city.
The story began with an email to us from Sam Stone who is fed up with bikes being stolen from around the campus. He’s joined forces with Jono Wood from the University of Auckland Cycling Club to get action.
Jono agrees that bike theft on campus makes scary reading! During Orientation week, he was told by the police that 7 bikes had been stolen from around campus on one day. Worse, the only secure bike cage on campus has had its bars cut and all the bikes stolen. One student lost a $3000 mountain bike, which was securely chained up and (he thought) safe inside the cage.
A steel bar has since been welded behind the snipped bars, but there’s still plenty of wiggle room to get a bike out – not to mention, it’s a highly visible how-to for anyone else who’s wandering around with bolt cutters. Plus, it’s not overlooked by CCTV of any kind! So despite the swipe card access, the “secure” cage is now completely insecure.
But as we know, people will use even substandard bike parking, if it’s the only parking there is. And as if to add insult to injury, look what happened when the bike cage filled up – bikes that were fastened to the inside of the fence (whenever the racks were full) were stickered and chained up by UniSafe.
Jono’s complaints on behalf of the Cycle Club to UniSafe have delivered zilch change, so he’s with Sam in saying – time for a petition to make the people’s voices heard!
Sam’s not asking for a lot:
What we’re looking for is any area with restricted access and a moderate level of shelter from the weather, with CCTV coverage. We’ve found a number of spaces around the city campus that already share walls with buildings and could have a fence put up with a swipe-access gate on it (a swipe system is already in place at the university). A number of these areas are already used for bike racks, but the racks are not attached to anything or protected in any way.
One of the key additions we want added to the existing and any new facilities is CCTV coverage. Attached is a photo of the new bike storage facility at the Newmarket campus, taken from (roughly) the eye of a CCTV camera on the wall.
It’s impossible to get in or out without being seen on the camera, and one must have special authorisation on their swipe card to gain access to the area. Something as simple as this (perhaps with a fence that is slightly more difficult to scale) would be a sufficient starting point.
Jono’s been investigating options, and adds these suggestions:
Both the city campus engineering building and the gym are due to be demolished and rebuilt in a few years. This is a chance for us to ask for an indoor, lockable storage area monitored by a security guard. Why not include other facilities like showers and changing rooms, and even a self-sustaining bike maintenance shop with students who fix others bikes for a small fee.
For an example of what’s possible, check out the Bike Arrival Station at Monash University in Melbourne (a similar size to the University of Auckland). It has bike storage, lockers, showers, changing rooms, toilets, drinking fountains, and a DIY bike repair bay. It even won a sustainability award! Wouldn’t this be a great model for Auckland to follow?
The cycling community at the University of Auckland deserves so much better from its institution. I agree that CCTV on all racks and more lockable areas are desperately needed, right now. It’s time the University invested in cycling as part of its talk about leadership and sustainability. These requests for improvement are minor in $$ terms – but major in terms of demonstrating:
- commitment to the well-being of students (and staff!)
- concern for their safety and their property
- practical steps to lowering the University’s carbon footprint
- support and encouragement for healthy transport choices
Join us to help make these needs known and respected by the University of Auckland – sign the petition now, and pass the link around.
C’mon, U of A – it’s not rocket science!