Mixed feelings surround new bike plan: Students and other cyclists respond to UK’s permit fee

By Kirsten Clancy

Next year, cyclists will have to pay to park. This announcement from UK Parking and Transportation Services left campus divided on whether it supports the new bicycle permit plan.

The new plan designed by Parking and Transportation Services, means beginning in July, students will have to put a permit decal on their bicycles to park at bike racks on campus. These passes cost $15 for lifetime registration, but from July until March 2010, the fee will be waived.

Scott Beckmeyer, the co-coordinator of UK Greenthumb, said the plan has the potential to do a lot of harm because people would see it simply as a way to generate revenue. This gives Parking and Transportation Services a bad reputation, he said.But he said the plan also could do a lot of good, especially if a mandatory bicycle education program was added, which is something he said Parking and Transportation Services is considering.

“Right now, it’s dangerous for cyclists, cars and pedestrians,” Beckmeyer said. “Nobody knows how bikes fit into the picture.”

Shane Tedder, the founder and coordinator of the Wildcat Wheels Bike Library said he thinks the fee will provide a recurring revenue stream for UK, which will allow the university to have a fixed amount of money to pay for bicycling services, including bike racks. He also said the fee is not too large for bicyclists, because people who drive cars have to pay for different services associated with driving.

“To some degree, it’s fair that cyclists would have to pay for the services they use,” Tedder said.

Chris Blau, an employee of Scheller’s Fitness and Cycling, located on Woodland Avenue, said the new plan would cause more people to ride bikes. The plan would help with tracking stolen bikes and help purchase new bike racks UK needs, he said.

“It will probably triple the amount of bike riding on campus. We’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” Blau said.

D.J. Pressley, a forestry and community and leadership development freshman, said some students who have bicycles also have cars, which means these students would have to pay more money and would be discouraged from cycling.

“Some people already have cars here,” Pressley said. “They might choose between their car and bike, so they’ll drive.”

But the money is not the issue, said engineering freshman Heath Phillips, although UK should have the money to pay for the services bicyclists need. He said he disagreed with the permits themselves.

“I really don’t want to put a sticker on my bike,” Phillips said. “If I’m buying a new bike, I don’t want to put a sticker on it.”