A growing pile of more than a dozen seemingly abandoned bikes can be found near the Shea Rowing Center, home of the University’s crew teams.
Some of the bikes in the pile appear fully functional and crew team members walk by them everyday. Many students are unaware of why the bikes remain.
Amanda Haye ’19, a women's lightweight rower,said she heard rumors about the bikes’ origins, and that the bikes aren’t necessarily owned by crew members.
“That’s a known thing that people steal bikes and don’t put them back,” she said. “Maybe that’s what it is. That’s what people think. I know that’s [what] people think, but I don’t know for sure.”
Haye said there are bikes by the trees that accumulated as the year progressed.
“They weren’t there constantly at the beginning of the year,” she said.
Ellie Maag ’19, a women's openweight rower whose bike was stolen from the boathouse around October of last year, expressed surprise at the number of bikes that are abandoned.
“I really don’t understand why they’re still there. You’d think someone would have stolen them by now. Some are half sunk into the ground and almost look like they’re trying to be garden décor or something,” she said.
Jan Bernhard ’18, a men's heavyweight rower, said that most people on crew have bikes that are commonly purchased from Walmart. As a result, they are low quality and frequently break, he added. He said that sometimes if the bikes’ chains break, people can still use them to coast downhill toward the boathouse, but might not use the bike to go back uphill. Thus, some bikes are left behind.
According to Bernhard and lightweight rower Oscar Holmes ’19, there was a cleanup earlier in the year of the seemingly abandoned bikes. Bernhard said he thinks this has only happened once during his time at the University.
Rebecca Blevins ’19, a women's open weight rower, also heard that there was a cleanup effort earlier this year.
According to Holmes, the cleanup was ordered by a coaching staff at the boat club.
In an email sent to multiple crew teams in early March, Greg Hughes ’96, head coach of men's heavyweight crew, asked all bikes to be removed the next day as too many bikes were piling up.
“All remaining bikes [after the cleanup] will be removed and disposed of,” Hughes wrote.
Hughes did not respond to a request for comment. Kate Maxim, assistant coach for the women's openweight crew, deferred comment to the University Department of Public Safety.
DPS deferred comment to University Media Relations Specialist Min Pullan.
According to Pullan, Public Safety does not touch bikes unless there is evidence of a crime. She explained that DPS does not pick up abandoned bikes nor store them.
“If it’s something abandoned, Transportation and Parking Services should get it. There’s certainly nothing more that Public Safety does,” she said.
Public Safety had no knowledge of such a cleanup and deferred comment to the University’s Transportation & Parking Services.
Michelle Ingram, manager for parking enforcement and responsible for bikes on campus, said that if a cleanup was done, Public Safety would have performed it. Ingram said that her department focuses almost entirely on the inner campus where authorized bike posts or ribbon racks are located. Ingram added that Transportation & Parking Services has a protocol for determining when bikes are abandoned.
Signals of abandonment include twisted tires or missing handlebars, Ingram said. Transportation & Parking Services tag bikes that appear to be abandoned. After a designated wait period where no owner claims the bike, the Department collects the bike and holds them before donating the bikes.