U-lock exchange offers students protection from bike larceny

Photo by Zoe Dehmer.

Zoë Dehmer
Staff Writer

About 100 students passing through the Compass Tuesday morning traded in malfunctioning and poor quality bike locks for new U-locks provided by the VCU Police and University Student Affairs.

An effort to educate students on the importance of a good bike lock in order to prevent theft, the project was a joint idea by associate vice provost for student affairs, Charles Klink, Ph. D., and VCU Police officer Matt Ruland.

“Theft is one of our most reported crimes,” Ruland said. “Unfortunately, when we get bike thefts, nine out of 10 of them had a cable lock. They were just cut and left.”

VCU Rambikes, a facility that provides bike maintenance services and teaches students how to fix and maintain their own bikes, also supported the bike lock exchange program.

Ellie Parrish, a senior urban planning and regional studies major, works for Rambikes and helped out in the Compass on Tuesday.

“I’ve had a couple friends get their bikes stolen,” she said. “I’ve had my rear wheel stolen a couple times. It’s easy if people don’t lock up their bikes right.”

Students were advised to connect their U-locks to both the front tire and the frame when locking their bikes to a rack.

Calum Firstenberg, of the VCU chapter of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, also volunteered during the event. He said Phi Kappa Psi has a good relationship with the VCU Police and connects with officers like Ruland to get involved in volunteering for events like the lock exchange.

“A lot of people were very surprised we were giving out locks that are like $30 bike locks for free,” Firstenberg said.

During the 2012-13 academic year, larcenies on campus were down 9 percent from the previous year, according to VCU Police spokesperson Michael Kelly.

“That’s a combination of people being more responsible with their items, and enforcement and education from the police department,” Kelly said. “Folks should know that we take bike larceny seriously … A bike might not have as high a dollar value as a car but if that’s how you get around and it gets stolen, you’re out of luck.”

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