Imagine you are running late for class. What do you do? You could walk, but by the time you arrive at your ASIANLAN 102 class in North Quad, your professor will have just finished roll call. Not being there on time will result in a .5 percent reduction from your final grade. You start to panic, and decide that riding your bike to North Quad will enable you to just make it on time. Upon arrival at North Quad, you notice that available parking for bicycles is limited. However, out of the corner of your eye, you spot the accessible ramp, which is completely void of bikes. Without thinking twice, you decide to ignore the numerous “no bicycle parking” signs, lock your bike to the handrail and hurry to class.
This might not seem like a big deal to someone who does not constantly think about whether or not they can enter or exit a building. However, there are several students at the University of Michigan who have mobility impairments, and that thought is always on their minds. While the student that locks their bike to an accessible ramp might have done so to avoid arriving slightly late to class, a mobility-impaired student might not even be able to attend the same class as a consequence of the first student’s actions. Worse yet, in times of emergency, students with mobility impairments may be prevented from exiting a building safely due to a bike being locked to a ramp.
Central Student Government’s Commission of Campus Accessibility and Disability Affairs in conjunction with Sgt. Gary Hicks of the University of Michigan Police Department and Carole Dubritsky, the University’s Americans with Disabilities Act Coordinator, have developed procedures to remedy this problem.
Effective April 1, 2014, bicycles locked to the handrail of an accessible ramp will be subject to impoundment when a complaint is called in to the UMPD’s non-emergency line at (734) 763-1131.
Upon receiving a complaint, the UMPD will dispatch an officer to the ramp in question. If the aforementioned bike is registered with the University Police Department, the student will receive a phone call alerting them that they need to remove their bike immediately or it will be impounded. If the bicycle was not registered with University Police, it will be subject to immediate impoundment.
When the bikes are impounded, they are taken to a secure location. In order to get the impounded bike back, a student has to call the University Police property desk at (734) 763-3434 to make special arrangements to pick it up. If the bike is not registered, the University police officers will ask for certain information in order to verify that the owner is who they claim to be. While there is not a fine associated with impoundment, students whose bikes have been impounded will have to register their bikes with the UMPD to have their bike released.
Incoming freshmen will now be informed of this policy at orientation, and encouraged to register their bikes. Doing so will help police officers more easily identify bikes if they are stolen and help return them to their owners. In order to register a bike, please visit http://www.police.umich.edu/.
As exemplified in the hypothetical situation detailed above, students that park their bicycles on accessible ramps are not doing so maliciously. Rather, they just aren’t putting themselves in the shoes of the students that necessitate the use of these accessible ramps. With this new procedure in place, it is the hope that the University student body will become more conscientious of this issue, and respectful of those who utilize these ramps as their primary means of entering and exiting buildings.
Ryan Bartholomew is an LSA junior and the Chair of CSG’s Campus Accessibility and Disability Affairs Commission.