Few things are certain on campus, like the wind tunnel that stretches from Cole Hall to Richardson Hall, finding classrooms with a random piano and the frequency of people on anything with wheels flying down the sidewalks. The new semester not only rejuvenates the campus but brings hundreds of skateboards, bikes and scooters to the sidewalks and walkways.
There are plenty of places to park your bike, as nearly all the buildings on campus have a bike rack within wheeling distance. But what happens if there is a storm?
As of writing this, there is only one designated bike shelter, located adjacent to Machuga Heights. While it’s a welcome addition for residents in the Heights, it puts into question the safety and security of other residential and commuter students who depend on bikes and scooters.
There are solutions, like buying a bike tarp and fastening it to the bike on rainy days. But lest we forget, Montclair State is an incredibly windy campus. Even the strongest bike tarp on the market is no match for the forceful winds students face just walking to class.
One could also argue that it is a student’s responsibility to take care of their bike. While that is extremely obvious, it is also rather callous. Not everyone has the time and ability to take their bike to a shelter and not everyone can afford the cost of repairs.
Bikes are a mode of transportation that a lot of people depend on, as they are faster than walking and more eco-friendly than a car. Having a place to store a bike and ensure its safety is part of ownership.
Some may argue that a student should bring their bike inside on rainy days. Doing so would be far too complicated, as it would mean occupying a significant portion of one’s room as well as creating unnecessary hassle for Residence Life staff and facilities. Plus, most bicycles are not foldable and can’t be tucked in a book bag like a scooter.
One could just take it to the bike shelter, but that alienates a significant portion of students who might not be close enough to the building. For example, on Monday evening I realized there was a thunderstorm outside. Fearing for my bike’s safety, I ran outside and had to ride the bike across campus in the pouring rain and the thunder.
In hindsight, it was a dumb move, but I had nothing to protect my bike from the elements. That bike has been with me for years, and I don’t want to lose it to a storm.
There are plenty of ways to incorporate a bike shelter adjacent to the residential buildings. Having sheds or other similar designated areas that provide shelter from inclement weather could make a huge difference.
Bike parking areas are crucial to the general populace as a place to keep a valuable mode of transportation safe, and at least they are available across campus.
But having a bike shelter in an accessible and available area away from the elements is something that should be a major amenity for all students and faculty on campus. It’s another aspect of parking we should consider beyond cars.