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Local bike shops, UA working to keep student bicyclists safe

KEVIN KLAUS/Arizona Summer Wildcat
Jason Conger, 27, of Tucson practices tricks on his bicycle outside of the Koeffler building Tuesday night. UA Parking and Transportation as well as TPD and local bike stores are working to increase bike safety on campus.
By Ty Young
Arizona Summer Wildcat
Wednesday July 16, 2003

Area bike shops offer discounted safety equipment to students who register their bikes

As thousands of incoming students prepare to descend on the campus, University officials, in conjunction with local bike shops, are stepping up a program to keep students safe and informed while on their bicycles.

Headed by UA Parking and Transportation's alternative transportation department, the program was designed to reward students and Tucson residents who register their bicycles on campus while also promoting bicycle safety.

After registering their bikes with UA Parking and Transportation, students are issued a receipt that can be used for 15 percent discounts on all safety equipment at several bicycle shops. This includes helmets and pads, as well as locks, reflectors and water bottles.

Charles Franz, parking and transportation program coordinator and head of the alternative transportation department, said that the program works on a number of levels.

"Our main focus is on education," he said. "We do enforcement when necessary, but our main goal is to keep them safe."

Franz said bicycle registration, designed to deter bicycle theft and promote recovery, is only one part of the program. The department also provides booklets and bike maps to students so they can easily understand the laws. Both are distributed in the Main Library, Student Union Memorial Center and ASUA Bookstore. Booklets and maps will soon be distributed in UA Residence Halls as well.

UAPD has also helped by providing two full-time bicycle officers whose main purpose is to educate students while on campus.

Ralph Phillips, manager of Fair Wheels Bikes, 1110 E. Sixth St., has been taking part in the program since its inception four years ago. The company has also offered student discounts on its own for 28 years.

Phillips said he has seen an increase in students looking for safety equipment, but said there is still work to be done.

"We try to encourage safety, especially helmets," he said. "They enjoy the discount for mostly locks, which are a necessity. Unfortunately, very few use the discount to purchase helmets."

Education senior and bicyclist Kevin Muir said he did not know of the registration discount but he has developed his own way of keeping his bike safe.

"My method of deterring theft is buying a crappy bike that nobody would want to take," he said.

However, he said he knows he could do more to protect himself.

"I'm probably not as safe as I could be. I could wear a helmet."

While many students may not want to wear helmets, an increasing number have registered their bikes in recent years.

Last year, 718 students registered their bikes, up from 713 the previous year.

Franz said it is important to keep students educated about both registration and safety, something Phillips agreed with.

"They need to just learn the rules," he said. "We see many people just get on their bikes and take off. Some just aren't paying attention, even going the wrong way on the roads. They don't consider themselves vehicles."

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