From the Little 500 to the B-Line Trail, Bloomington is known as a city of bikers. As summer gets closer, IU transportation managers and bike shop employees are preparing for upcoming bicycling season in Bloomington.
IU and the City of Bloomington have numerous resources for bikers, whether they’re first time riders or longtime bicyclists.
Kevin Whited, IU transportation demand management coordinator and bicycle manager, said the most important thing riders can do is stay predictable. This could mean everything from riding in a bike lane to riding with traffic to having a bike light. He also said riders should obey traffic laws.
“It freaks drivers out when you don’t,” Whited said.
Whited said drivers should make sure to pass with a safe distance and be aware that there are more cyclists on the road in the spring and summer months.
Whited said in order to avoid theft, riders should purchase good locks and lock through both the frame and the front wheel. If a bike does not have a good lock, it’s very easy for someone to steal the front wheel.
He also said there are a lot of students who bring a bike to campus but don’t really use it again after the weather gets cold, or they don’t want to have to maintain it.
“My advice would be to check your bike every once in a while, even if you don’t ride it often,” Whited said.
This could mean checking the lube on their chain to making sure there is air in the tires.
Whited said there are many resources on campus to help students maintain their bikes. There are a three workstations on campus, including the Wells Library and across the street from Ernie Pyle Hall. These workstations have tools riders could use to put air in their tires or check the chain lube, among other things.
Whited said he is looking to put in three more workstations across campus at Briscoe Quad, the School of Public and Environmental Affairs and Spruce Hall.
His goal is to have them at all of the residence halls on campus.
For students who may not use their bikes often or for riders who want a safe place to store their bikes, there are two sets of bike lockers on campus. One is in front of Briscoe, and the other is at Union Street Center.
Whited said the lockers aren’t that expensive to rent each year and students do not have to live in those residence centers to use them.
When it comes to parking on campus, Whited encouraged everyone to register their bike. He said when people from Parking Operations walk through campus and tag bikes that aren’t registered, they have to impound them and store them in one of IU’s parking garages. If the bikes aren’t claimed after 90 days, they are then sold at an auction or given to the IU Surplus Store.
In the last three years, a total of 1,052 bikes were impounded. Of those, 190 were claimed and 843 were released to the IU Surplus Store or sold at an auction.
“We want people to register their bikes,” Whited said. “If it’s registered and we find it, we know exactly who it belongs to.”
In addition to adding workstations and bike lockers, Whited has other plans to increase resources across campus.
The City of Bloomington and IU announced in October they would be partnering to create a Bloomington bike share project.
The program would allow people in Bloomington to rent a bike by the half-hour using an app on their phone. There will be 150 bikes across campus locked at racks across campus with a Geographic Information System in them. Riders can use the app to unlock the bike and check the bike back in.
“It’s that simple,” Whited said.
The project was supposed to start this month. However, due to contracting taking longer than expected, the tentative start date was moved to June 13.
“At first I was disappointed, but in a way it’s good because I can work out any kinks before students get back,” Whited said.
For riders who may need more help outside campus, there are numerous other shops and resources in Bloomington, such as the Bloomington Bike Project and Bicycle Garage, Inc.
Fred Rose, manager at Bicycle Garage, Inc., said as a seasonal shop, he and his employees see most of their business between the months of April and October. He added Bloomington is a little different than other parts of the Midwest because the Little 500 brings bicycle season earlier than most places.
Rose said what he recommends to riders is different depending on what they need, but a lot of times it focuses on hydration, safety or maintenance like teaching how to change a flat.
“Everyone has a story, whether they’ve been riding for very long or whether they’re just starting,” Rose said.