Where Do the Bikes Go?

group of bikes with blog title

Why do all of the bikes magically disappear over the summer? You may be asking yourself this when you come back to campus this fall. Did someone come take them? Did RIT sell them? These are all rumors that have been speculating around the “missing bikes.” Well, the team at BTB put on their investigating hats and got to the bottom of what exactly goes on with the bikes left on campus.

close up of bikes on the bike racks

BTB reached out to the Parking and Transportation and Public Safety Offices to find out the answers. It turns out that many people will just leave their bikes laying around all summer, or leave them when they graduate school and move to another place. Most of those bikes you see at the end of the year are abandoned, and RIT has to do something with them.

Why Does RIT Have to Get Involved?

Using bikes for transportation has grown in popularity, especially throughout the RIT community. Bikes make it easy to get around campus, without always having to wait for a shuttle. Many students, faculty, and staff ride bikes to and from campus for classes or work. With such high demand, you’ve probably noticed the bike racks are often filled to the brim, especially in high traffic areas such as the racks throughout the dorm tunnels or the ones outside larger academic buildings. RIT wants to make sure abandoned bikes aren't taking up spaces for bikes that are being used.

To help this issue, RIT goes around campus each summer to locked-in areas that prevent traffic flow or are highly used and gathers up any abandoned bikes. If the bike hasn’t moved in over a week since the spring term and move out day has ended, RIT will round up the bike. Each bike is brought back to Public Safety and held for safekeeping. Every bike is given a tag that is logged into their system as the type of bike, color, serial number and the date it was removed. All the bikes are kept on the rack outside of Grace Watson, explaining why it often looks insanely overcrowded.

I Can't Find My Bike What Do I Do?

If your bike isn’t where you left it, go to the Public Safety Office during business hours with proof that you own the bike. Proof can be a serial number on a receipt, an old picture with you on the bike, or anything that could be supporting evidence that you own it. You’ll be able to look through the racks to see if yours is there. The Public Safety team members are happy to help you find your bike. The officer's helped one of BTB’s team members find her missing bike in a day!

Girl reading a tag on a bike chained up with a bunch of bikes on a bike rack

What Happens to the Unclaimed Bikes?

The racks outside out Grace Watson fill up quickly with unclaimed bikes. After 90 days without being claimed, the university donates them to local non-profit organizations who are in need. However, not every bike hits the 90-day mark at the same time, so sometimes bikes can be out there longer. Never be afraid you’re too late to look for your bike.

bikes chained up to racks outside of Grace Watson

After the bulk of the bikes reach the 90-day waiting period, RIT contacts R Community Bikes, a non-profit organization in the City of Rochester. R Community Bikes comes to campus with several large trucks and collects the abandoned bikes. The organization fixes up the bikes and gives them away to youth centers, church groups, and neighborhood associations. Any bike that is “beyond repair” is taken for parts, and the parts are used to do free repairs on bikes for younger city residents. Check out their great mission out here.

But There Are Tags Out There From 2017!?

Public Safety also uses the racks outside Grace Watson for bikes that were recovered from a theft. Therefore, some of the bikes you are looking at may be recovered from thieves or were found in possession of someone who was actively stealing/ These bikes can be a part of open cases for a long time, and Public Safety has to keep them for as long as they need to. Often, Public Safety is unable to reach the owner of the recovered bike. Public Safety will keep these bikes significantly longer but are eventually donated.

close up of a bike with a white tag tied to the handle bar

If you’re leaving for the summer, make sure to take your bike! Also, whenever you are parking your bike, make sure you aren’t blocking any fire exits or other paths of traffic. If you have any questions about this, let us know and we’ll get in contact with the Parking and Transportation and Public Safety Offices.

Go find your bike and happy riding!


Tagged: #ritnews, announcements, student life