Davenport debuts new bike policies

A new regulation enacted by Davenport College will work to reduce bike clutter in the courtyard.
A new regulation enacted by Davenport College will work to reduce bike clutter in the courtyard. Photo by Anna-Sophie Harling.

Davenport bike owners who use fences, posts or furniture as impromptu bike racks will have to find a new way to store their bikes.

Davenport College now requires all students to register their bikes with the Davenport College Master’s Office — joining Branford College and Jonathan Edwards College in implementing stricter bike-usage policies. Though in all three colleges students must register bikes with the Master’s office, only Davenport plans to confiscate any unregistered bikes that remain in the College to use for a new Davenport-only bike-sharing program. Students say that while the new bike policy may be helpful for promoting a neater and safer courtyard, it also creates an annoyance that makes owning a bike inconvenient.

“Registering bikes will help students who might lose their bikes — perhaps if someone finds a lone bike and sees the Davenport sticker on it, they will be more likely to try and return it,” said Carolyn Haller, Davenport operations manager who heads the bike initiative. “Also, bikes chained to stair railings or lamp posts, for example, create safety concerns for people coming through the courtyard.”

According to an email sent out by the Davenport College Master’s Office on Oct. 16, students are required to fill out a form providing the model and color of their bike, and as of Wednesday evening, 40 students registered bikes with the Davenport Master’s office. Registered students receive a “Davenport” sticker to place on the handlebars, and all students are only allowed to attach their bikes to designated outdoor bike racks in the courtyard.

This is not the first time Davenport has tried to enforce stricter rules governing students’ bikes. Haller said a Davenport policy dictates that all bikes must be stored only on the bike racks, but the policy has not recently been enforced. In 2010, Davenport cleared its courtyard of 30 bikes that appeared rusted or abandoned — most of which were left behind by graduating seniors — and donated them to the New Haven Bike Collective. Haller said she thinks donating the bikes to a new bike-sharing consortium will be a more productive use of the abandoned and unregistered bikes.

Haller said she hopes to have at least four to five bikes in the consortium, adding that only Davenport students will be allowed to use the bikes and they must be returned to the courtyard when not in use. She said she has not yet determined the details of the program nor an effective way to ensure that bikes are treated properly and returned to the college. The college-specific bike consortium would be the first of its kind in Yale College, she said, and other operations managers she has spoken to have shown interest in expanding the program.

Davenport Master Richard Schottenfeld said Davenport’s new bike registration policy gives students an opportunity to claim their bikes before they are removed.

John Meeske, dean of undergraduate organizations and physical resources, and Jonathan Holloway, chair of the Council of Masters, said administrators have not yet discussed bike registration on a Yale College-wide scale since bike policy can better be addressed within residential colleges.

“Each college is a little bit different in terms of bike racks and storage options, so it makes sense these issues would be handled independently,” Meeske said. “While there are currently no rules centrally in Yale College about bike registration, I’d certainly be open to talking about it if masters, deans or students felt it was an issue that deserved more centralized attention.”

Holloway said he thinks different policies among the colleges help sustain a culture of “friendly rivalry” and creativity that sustains the inter-college dynamic, adding that Davenport’s new rule may cause other colleges to revisit their bike policies.

Despite Branford’s stricter policies, many Branford students forget to register their bikes, said Branford Senior Administrative Assistant Alicia Heaney. In the nine residential colleges without major bike-usage policies, students are encouraged to place their bikes on racks, but do not have to register the bikes.

Three students interviewed said they think the new policy will work because it requires students to take responsibility for their property.

“This is a good policy because it forces people to realize that their bikes are property and not trash,” Lincoln Mitchell ’15 said. “People forget that when they attach bikes to fences, it looks like their bikes are just sitting there or have been tossed aside.”

But Fiona Vella ’14 said the policy seems “a little bit unnecessary” because she has not noticed that bikes have been crowding the main courtyard.

All eight students interviewed said they consider the bike-sharing program a good idea, though three said they are not sure how much the program will be used.

“I think most people who want to be biking already have their own bike at Yale,” Julian Debenedetti ’15 said. “Also, making sure the bikes are properly maintained and stored and not hogged by students could also be difficult.”

There are nearly 2,000 bike parking spaces throughout campus, including those in the residential colleges.

Comments

  • Sara

    Why can’t we have a citywide bike sharing program, like every other major city? Even Bridgeport, which has virtually no jobs or downtown residents, is now spending $1.6 million on a bikeshare program. The benefits of such a program are incalculable.

  • attila

    What happens if 50 or more Yale bikes congregate in the same location off-campus?