Student proposes electronic bike lockers

STAR // Kaila Sanders Sonoma State University student Amy Loukonen has proposed a solution to recent bike thefts.

STAR // Kaila Sanders

Sonoma State University student Amy Loukonen has proposed a solution to recent bike thefts.

A Sonoma State University student has come up with a proposal to encourage the university to install electronic bike lockers. Multiple bike thefts have already occurred this term, about seven in all according to campus police services. Senior Amy Loukonen researched and created a proposal and presented it to the Associated Student Senate this past week, and is waiting for action to be taken.

At the meeting, the senate explained that the school was considering building a large bike barn, a structure for students to store their bicycles. However it’s not likely to be placed in the center of campus, which removes the convenience aspect of riding a bike.  Bike locks often have evidence of someone attempting to cut them, and many students have had helmets, saddles, wheels and other bike accessories taken from their bike during class. These thefts are preventing students from riding their bicycles to and from school as well as riding around campus to their classes.

Junior, Shaunna Borenstein is a CSA and one of her residents recently had their bike stolen. She explained that there is a right way and a wrong way to lock up a bike and teaching students how to lock up a bike properly could help in reducing the amount of bike thefts.

“Electronic bike lockers seem most efficient in helping solve the problem,“ said Borenstein.

“The lack of secure bike parking and the increase in bike theft is a deterrent to those interested in bike commuting to campus,” Loukonen said.

Loukonen is a transfer student from Santa Rosa Junior College where she would bike to campus because of secure bike parking provided there. The junior college has had many bike thefts over the years and decided to take action by installing 36 electronic bike lockers on the campus in 2009. She is passionate about bike riding along with many others in the community so reached out to the public to get some information herself.

“The Bay Area Air Quality Management District is offering grants of $75,000 per public agency, per year to install electronic bike lockers, in order to help encourage people to use their bicycles according to Loukonen,. She said the money exists in grants and hopes the university will apply.

Students have probably seen the metal wave structures where many people park their bikes but those structures only lock your bike frame to the pole. Locks are still easily broken which has already been proven this semester and previous semesters as well.

Senior Sedona Tuss said, “I have not seen them before but electronic lockers sound like a great idea to reduce bike thefts.”

The campus has tried bike lockers in the past but problems arose. One of which is people were found people sleeping in them, and therefore they no longer exist. The eLink technology lockers Loukonen is proposing to install would not have those same problems.

Students desire secure bike parking and according to Loukonen, electronic bike lockers cost 5 cents an hour and they are solar powered and accessible with a key card.

The key card could potentially be sold at the university bookstore and the lockerscould be spread out throughoutcampus, thus avoiding having a large footprint like the bike barn idea would, Loukonen said.

Loukonen also contacted Sonoma County Supervisor, Shirlee Zane, who seemed to support the idea. She said Sonoma County already has quality of life issues due to the high level of traffic and lack of physical activity. Safe bicycle parking could help eliminate some of the greenhouse gas emissions as well as traffic and encourage a healthy active lifestyle..

Steven Schmitz of the Sonoma County bicycle and pedestrian advisory committee also supports Loukonen’s proposal. He explained that the 2010 Sonoma County Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan implemented a policy advising secure bike parking facilities in new commercial, industrial and retail development areas, as well as at parks, schools and other public locations.