A couple stories from the Arizona Daily Star today.

First, Becky Pallack reports that the number of bike thefts jumped from 332 in 2008 to 427 in 2009.

In talking with students, many bike thefts go unreported because they figure they won’t get their bikes back. I think this number is artificially low.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

Bike theft was at the highest level in at least five years at the University of Arizona last year, an annual crime statistics report shows.

People reported 427 stolen bikes last year.

“It’s hard to say why. I can tell you the reason people steal bikes is they’re so easy to turn around and sell to support a drug habit,” said Sgt. Juan Alvarez, a UA Police Department spokesman.

Police recommend that students register their bike’s serial number, get a bike lock and maybe even use two locks, and lock your bike in a public area where people might spot suspicious activity, he said.

Bike theft is the third-most commonly reported crime on campus, behind other thefts and alcohol violations.

The second post is an editorial from the Star saying they are happy the police are crackinf down on cyclists at the UA.

Here is an excerpt from the editorial:

Traversing the University of Arizona campus and surrounding neighborhoods can be an exercise in quick reflexes, incredulity (yes, that person did just ride her bike facing oncoming traffic, blow through a stop sign and ride up onto the sidewalk still going the wrong way) and nerve.

It is welcome news, then, that campus police are focusing on bicycle safety and citing people for infractions.

Officers with the UA Police Department have spent September giving wayward bicyclists warnings – but now the enforcement phase has begun and the tickets will be for real.

This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, but bike riders must heed the same traffic laws that car drivers do, and violations can mean a large fine – UAPD’s Jose Bermudez told KVOA Channel 4 that a ticket for running a stop sign can cost about $220 – and points on your driver’s license.

Nabbing errant bike riders might not seem like a high-priority task to many police agencies. But on a campus of upwards of 35,000 people where thousands zip around on two wheels, bike safety must be a priority.

What say you?

9 thoughts on “Arizona Daily Star: Bike thefts rise; UA enforcement welcomed”
  1. I may send the following to the Star, but need clearance from above first:

    It would be helpful for the editorialist to also advocate for drivers to comply with traffic laws, especially given the fact that distracted driving, failure to yield, and speeding are among the principle causes of traffic collisions and lead to high-severity crashes. In comparison, there is no documented case in the region over the past 20 years of a bicyclist who was not complying with traffic laws causing a severe injury or fatality to a motorist, yet there are tens of thousands of crashes in the region caused by poor driving that result in numerous severe injuries and fatalities. A little more attention and compliance with laws by motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists will improve conditions for us all.

    As many of Tucson Velo’s readers may know, in partnership with the UA and City of Tucson Pima County provides a bicycle diversion program to give bicyclists the same option as drivers to take a safety class and have the citation dismissed. This effectively serves as their first warning because any persons getting additional traffic citations within a year are not eligible for the diversion program.

  2. I tried posting those very messages in the comment section, but for some reason it wouldn’t let me post it.

    I’d like to write a letter to the editor, but since my wife works there, I don’t think they would publish it. I’ll see if they will me write an editorial of my own.

  3. I agree with you as well Matt. The number one reason that I hear from parents that prevents them from letting their kids ride their bikes to school is that the road is dangerous and drivers are erratic and scary. So essentially poor drivers are scary people into their cars for they are too scared to ride their bikes. Some re-education for all and more public awarenss to the great benefits of riding I think would be great. I would also very much like to see more enforcement of cars speeding, so that most cars on Speedway actually go 35 mph.

  4. Yes, Arizona Daily Star is (and has been, for a long time) an awful newspaper. That evaluation is made without reference to whether it generates an acceptable ROI for the trombone-crazed Pulitzers (earlier) or for the limping-along Midwestern polyster Lee Enterprises (post-Pulitzer and currently). The evaluation is based only on whether its work informs and benefits the community, its market so to speak. On that basis, the paper is awful.
    One would think that the apex of day-to-day, hour-to-hour crazy and stressful news papering would result in calm, informed, and considered op-ed pieces. Not so at Lee Enterprises’ ADS! The low-cost, go-through-the-motions mindset and practice trickles up and down…
    Consider this from the ADS editorial:
    “Combine that lack of attention with drivers scrambling for a parking space on and near campus, pedestrians who feel no compunction about walking out into traffic and a general rush of lots of people trying to go lots of places at once and you have a potentially bad situation.”
    Here and elsewhere in the piece, the ADS editorialist seems to recognize that UA transpo problems are complex and packed temporally, spatially and institutionally.
    But then there’s the next paragraph, the great lazy and contradictory simplification, from ADS:
    “Hopefully word of the enforcement and costly citations will get out and those devil-may-care bike riders will think twice before zooming in and out of traffic.”
    In other words, the mess is really really about those demons, you know, the bike riders. Hands off UA malfunctions in facility location, traffic routing, etc.
    The dismal and cynical intellectual and ethical performance over at the Arizona Daily Star continues to astound.

  5. I work on campus and I ride my bike to work everyday. I rarely see a car blow through a stop sign, yet, I constantly have to slam on the brakes (of my work truck) for cyclists who won’t even slow down for a stop sign. it’s also a problem when pedestrians won’t give the right of way to traffic (drive around Main Gate at lunch). I read that the U of A police were going to be enforcing bike rules, hasn’t happened as of 10/5. University between Park & Euclid seems like the most dangerous place to ride around campus, at least to me!

  6. I was thinking about this just this morning. My commute was mellow and relaxing the whole way right up until I crossed Campbell @ University and officially entered UAPDs jurisdiction. I immediately witnessed and/or dodged:

    A salmon crossing Campbell continuing westbound up the eastbound lane of University.

    A group of cyclists ignore the yield at the clothespins-merge in spite of a vehicle with the ROW westbound on University.

    A cyclist entering University from the Warren bike lane ignoring ROW of cyclists on University.

    A salmon cranking eastbound right up the center of westbound University just East of Cherry.

    All cyclists but two of us blowing off the stopsign at westbound University & Cherry.

    Another salmon northbound in the southbound lane of Cherry blowing off the stopsign at eastbound University & Cherry to turn left in front of two other vehicles with the ROW.

    A cyclist dodging pedestrians riding on the sidewalk up the East side of Cherry.

    And this was over just two or three minutes covering a few hundred yards. Just like the big “crackdown” they threatened last semester, I’m hearing a lot of talk and seeing no action. Parents tend to learn pretty quickly (the good ones anyway) that if you threaten kids with dire punishment that you don’t really mean then fail to follow-through, all you really accomplish is to teach your kids that you’re full of sh*t and not to be respected. If UAPD lacks the resolve and/or funding to follow-through, then empty threats just make the problem worse.

  7. On my bike, I have seen TPD stopping and citing numerous cyclists in the neighborhoods around the campus. It makes me nervous because no matter how lawfully I’m riding, and though I have not been stopped yet, I wonder if I will get stopped just because I’m on a bike and TPD has permission to lean on us.

    On the other hand, I’m pretty sick of having to navigate the dangerous and downright rude riding behavior described above, but I doubt police harassment is going to change the behavior of people in a society that is pervasively lawless and rude to begin with. Because folks, it’s not just people on bicycles who are out of control out there.

  8. I think part of the problem is that there are a lot of people riding bikes around the U of A like they haven’t touched one since they were 9. I bet a lot of these people are ignorant of the laws and safe traveling on a bike.

    Perhaps the U of A should offer a bike commuter class for these people 2 weeks after school starts. I ride a bike and am afraid to be around some of these people.

    I also wish the U of A would crack down on pedestrians at the same time. There are so many who pay no attention when they step off a curb.

    I also don’t think tickets are the way to go for any of this unless someone is being extremely dangerous. A warning should be sufficient.

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