Magazine

Southern CT State Owls Make A Wise Move with Bike Lockers

Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven started out with three teachers and 84 students in 1893. Over the past century, it has grown to encompass 168 acres and to enroll more than 12,000 students.
What's its secret formula for continued growth, you might ask? University officials recognized a long time ago that their students represent a broad spectrum of experience, values, goals and ideas. They also know that innovative students, such as those they want to appeal to, are selective -- they want to live in a stimulating, diverse and authentic place.
University officials are doing all that they can to attract and retain those students -- by continuing to modernize, diversify and expand their campus to fit students' lifestyles.
Recently, they started a $230 million construction program to expand the university's library, update the school's science center, and add a student center, a residence hall, a facilities operation building and three parking garages. And as part of the expansion, officials also have implemented an amenity that students and staff at universities around the country have come to value: bicycle lockers.
For many university administrators, parking is one of those quiet dilemmas keeping them awake at night, hoping that all their students don't all arrive at the school at the same time! Currently, about 2,200 students live on Southern Connecticut University's campus, which means that about 10,000 students are coming in and out of campus regularly -- a large percentage of which probably arrive in single-occupancy vehicles.
Bike lockers are one way to ease traffic and parking problems on campus and, ultimately, administrators' concerns. Southern Connecticut State University elected to install 30 bike lockers. They provide bike commuters with the peace of mind they need in order to use their bike to get around campus, rather than a car. They know their bike will be totally protected from the elements and theft in an American Bicycle Security bike locker.
"Because of the lockers, we can provide the necessary customer service that resident students and faculty expect," said Sal Rizza, who is Assistant Director of Housing, Director of Schwartz Hall. Residence Hall Area Coordinator and Purchasing Representative.
"Although Southern Connecticut State University is a very safe and secure institution, there is still the possibility of theft. Having secure bicycle lockers [reduces] the possibility of those thefts," Rizza said. "When you make the comparison between a 'bicycle locker' versus a typical 'bicycle rack, it would be so much more involved to break into the locker and risk getting nabbed by the campus police or an eyewitness."
The freshmen who live on campus may be especially thankful for the lockers, since they are not permitted to drive a motor vehicle to campus, and the lockers are the only totally enclosed protection that the university offers for bikes. University residents are prohibited from storing their bicycles within the residence halls and the surrounding buildings, so the only place for bicycle storage is outside in the elements.
So far, the students are "enjoying the convenience, peace of mind and safety that the bike lockers provide," Rizza said. "And there have been no reported break-ins to the lockers." Students can rent the lockers for $40 per semester.
While there are many different types of lockers, Southern Connecticut State University elected to install a unit with Medeco high-security T-handle locks. Each locker can hold two bikes. They can stand alone or be grouped together, because they do not share any common walls.
What's more, the one-piece lockers are not molded out of soft and flammable HDPE plastic material. Because they are constructed of fiberglass-reinforced plastic, they are highly resistant to impact and stains and will not corrode.
"They were the most practical for a campus environment," Rizza said. "They are very safe, durable and able to withstand the constant shift in New England weather. Also, if a section of the locker broke in some way, we could replace the part and not the whole unit," he said. "And American Bicycle Security has provided excellent service."
Plans are tentatively underway to add even more lockers to the campus. As the university continues to expand, so may its bike parking program. Within the next couple of years, the new residence hall and student center will be completed, so an increase in students may also mean an increased need for bicycle lockers.

The bike lockers at Southern Connecticut State University were installed by American Bicycle Security Company. For more information, log on to www.ameribike.com. If you would like to learn more about Southern Connecticut State University, www.southernct.edu.


Side Bar 1

Items considered
in SCSU bike locker specification:
Encourage campus residents to use bicycles.
Reduce bike theft.
Keep landscape looking clean and well-maintained.
Ease of installation -- no assembly required.
Easy to move if needed.
Option of grouping lockers together or individually.
Durability -- able to withstand New England climate.
Price, quality and dire necessity.

Article Abstract from October, 2003




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