Opinion: We want (Bike) Rack City!

Charles Yu, Author

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Traffic Safety representative David Markowitz stated at the September PTSA executive board meeting that on Sept. 19, there were 831 bikes parked at Paly; that means over 43 percent of the Paly student body biked to school that day.

Students park their bikes to poles, fences, trees - to any spot they can find on campus. Photos by Lizzie Chun.

Students park their bikes to poles, fences, trees — to any spot they can find on campus. Photos by Lizzie Chun.

Students, panting heavily, arrive at Palo Alto High School a few minutes before the bell and give a sigh of relief once they reach the campus after pedaling at top speed in order to avoid being late to class. However, those sighs soon turn into looks of frustration and distress as they search for a spot to lock their bikes, and despite their best efforts, they fruitlessly end up with a tardy — not a fantastic way to start their day.

The ever-growing student population has presented an age-old problem to those biking to school: there aren’t enough bike racks.

Luckily for students, plans for new bike racks were set in motion at a recent a Facilities Steering Committee meeting on Sept. 25. With the removal of the bike parking by the senior deck during construction on the Performing Arts Center later this school year, new bike racks will be placed around campus to make up for this loss. Suggestions about where to place these bike racks were thrown about, but the members didn’t come to any definite conclusions. So, the question still remains: Where will these racks go?

If carelessly dealt with, the new bike rack arrangements will further confuse and irritate the already flustered student bikers. Fortunately, we’ve come up with some proposals regarding the set up of our future rack city.

One of the current problems with our bike racks is the amount of overcrowding in the bike rack areas. This makes it a challenge for students, such as freshman Samarth Venkatasubramaniam, as they park their bikes in the morning and retrieve them in the afternoon.

“I have friends who have had people lock their bikes around theirs and had issues getting their bikes out,” Venkatasubramaniam said. “Basically, it’s just an issue of when people get to school. The later you are, the more desperate [you are] to find a spot, so you park your bike in a manner inconvenient to another person.”

The significant number of students biking to school is just adding to the problem of overcrowding.

Traffic Safety representative David Markowitz stated at the September Parent Teacher Student Association executive board meeting that on Sept. 19, there were 831 bikes parked at Paly; that means more than 43 percent of the Paly student body biked to school that day.

That’s quite a few people, and the effects are apparent on campus. Bikes are locked to anything possible — racks, fences, poles, even to other bikes. If you take a close look at the bike racks, you can always find three or even four bikes locked to a stand that’s only meant for two, and the locks are often intertwined and weaved through each other from a rushed, early-morning locking job. If you have been a victim of this unfortunate occurrence, we give you our sincerest sympathy.

Junior Haruhiko Kuramochi struggles to remove his bike from the crowded bike racks after school. Photo by Lizzie Chun.

Junior Haruhiko Kuramochi struggles to remove his bike from the crowded bike racks after school. Photo by Lizzie Chun.

Simply replacing the old bike racks with new ones in different locations will not magically solve the problem. To resolve these issues, we need more bike racks than we currently have on campus, and they should be less concentrated in one area to reduce the rampant overcrowding. Ideally, these bike racks should be placed close to the north side of campus by Embarcadero Road, on both sides of the art building and by the new media arts building.

While we’re at it, we might as well add more racks to the current bike parking area by the big gym.

Additional well-placed bike racks would also benefit upperclassmen drivers who struggle to find parking spots. Paly is landlocked with little space to add parking lots, and more places for upperclassmen to lock their bikes would encourage them to bike and consequently be green, which is always a plus.

Just imagine being able to cruise into school on your bike and feel that complete and utter satisfaction and lack of frustration when you see open spots; you’ll even be able to choose where to park — none of that extensive exploration for a space! While it’s not quite a guaranteed happiness, we think it’s pretty darn close.