Install more bike racks near academic buildings

Mihir Gokhale, Columnist

Editor’s note: A previous version of this column incorrectly stated the number of registered bicyclists at UT as 5,500, but it has been updated to reflect that UT ‘s bike racks can hold 5,555 total bikes. The Texan regrets this error. 

It’s no secret that UT is a large university. On a 431-acre campus, bicycles are a popular transportation option among the UT student body. But UT’s scarcity of bike racks near academic buildings prevents students from easily storing their bikes.

Bike rack location matters. UT should install more bike racks near academic buildings to improve accessibility for students.

While many residence halls like Jester have temporary bike racks, several UT academic buildings lack these commodities. Others, like the Red McCombs School of Business and the Steve Hicks School of Social Work, only incorporate a bike rack at certain entrances. 

English freshman Trinity Ngo frequently uses UT’s BCycle system but expressed reservations about UT’s current bike rack network. 

“With the amount of students that do use bikes as their mode of transportation, there are not enough (bike racks) for everyone to park their bike in a timely fashion and then get to class without running into some sort of trouble,” Ngo said.

Without ample bike racks near educational facilities, UT students must choose between three unideal scenarios. Students can walk to a farther bike rack, bring their bikes inside or leave them unguarded outside. Each option has issues and inconveniences. 

A lack of optimally-positioned racks also encourages illegal bike parking and increases the risks of bike theft. These problems will only compound as more students consider eco-friendly transportation. 

Blanca Gamez, director of Parking and Transportation Services, described the University’s approach to building more bike racks. 

“Parking and Transportation Services welcomes feedback from the university community and works with community members and university partners to find spaces to place racks where they are needed,” Gamez said in an emailed statement. “Campus community members can email PTS at [email protected] to request bike racks in certain areas.” 

UT Parking and Transportation Services should install more bike racks in closer proximity to academic buildings. This includes expanding regular and BCycle rack networks beyond celebrated entrances. Taken together, these changes could reduce illegal parking, mitigate thefts and provide students with greater bike rack access points.  

“I feel like accessibility to (bike) storage might increase the use of bikes on campus instead of people immediately turning to walking because they feel like parking a bike would be too much trouble,” Ngo said. 

Gamez mentioned that UT’s bike racks together can hold 5,555 bikes. Clearly, bikes are an integral part of many UT students’ lifestyles. By installing more bike racks near academic buildings, UT can better accommodate its student body.

Gokhale is an undeclared business freshman from Allen, Texas.