Frustration with Pitt's bogus bike policy

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IHeartMyBike
Participant
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I work at Pitt and have been commuting to my Oakland office for about 4 months now from the Northside. One of the reasons I originally decided to start biking to work is that I have my own office where I could safely park my bike. I work in a building that has a security guard 24/7, but, until yesterday, have never been questioned about my bike when coming or going.

For whatever reason, there was a guard there that is usually in a different location and he told me that bikes are not permitted in University buildings. I explained to him that I work there, have my own office where I park the bike, and have been doing so for months. He had me call up to one of the building managers who said that I can bring it in today, but need to follow up with permission from my department facilities manager (which I did).

Long story short: one facilities management jack-off on a power trip in the building insists that I can’t park my bike in my office because it is against the University traffic and parking ordinance which states:

“Bicycles shall not be parked or stored in any location other than areas designed for bicycle parking, including in any University building, including stairwells, hallways, and balconies” (from section 3-13: http://www.pts.pitt.edu/parking/documents/ParkingOrdinance.pdf)

He also contacted the freaking head of my department to insist I be reprimanded for parking my bike illegally for months and cc’ed the facilities Chief so that he could be notified of this terrible deed.

I was furious that this bogus policy that is clearly not meant to apply the current situation and one moron could limit my ability to park my bike safely. There are some bike racks around my building, but they are very often full. My boss told me that he thinks this is ridiculous, but he couldn’t fight it b/c it’s a “University policy”. Funny part is that today, I decided to chance it and walked right up to my office again with no problem. I fear that if I make a big stink about this it may only cause more strict enforcement of the policy.

Has anyone else had a similar experience? Any suggestions? This is a policy that needs to allow for exceptions because as written, it says no bikes in any buildings, period. The University should be supporting bike commuters and not discouraging them… especially given the traffic and parking problems in Oakland.


Lyle
Participant
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Are your skills in demand elsewhere?


sprite
Participant
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I wonder if you could have your office declared an area designed for bicycle parking?

University policies don’t just create themselves. I can see that it’s meant to keep students in line and must have seemed like a good idea to somebody (in my freshman dorm, far from here, I recall there were some guys who used to get drunk and hang bikes from the fire sprinklers on the ceiling. Damage Ensued.) The question is who has the power to change the policy and, as some people colorfully say, whether this is the hill you want to die on (obviously your boss is totally uninterested in dying on it.) If they are not willing to allow parking in offices (clearly NOT inhabited by drunk students) then they need to ante up and provide decent secure parking for you in my opinion. So if I made policies you’d be set.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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The policy needs changed. There probably are places on campus where the current policy makes some sense, but as a blanket policy, it’s too broad.


dwillen
Participant
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I’ve seen people bring bikes into BST3. Which building are you in?


Steven
Participant
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Make a sign “Designated Bicycle Parking Area”, with an arrow. Hang it in your office.

In the event they find that unconvincing, you might try contacting the Assistant Director for Parking, and explaining that due to your great desire to comply with Pitt’s fine rules, you need to get part of your office designated as a bike parking area.

Failing that, maybe find someone at Pitt with some authority who’s generally supportive of bikes (HR? Someone in a health-related department? Is UPMC closely connected enough to Pitt for them to have some pull?) who could be an advocate for actually changing the document you linked to, replacing the blanket prohibition with rules that authorize in-building bike parking with appropriate permission.


Pierce
Participant
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I had a friend that worked in the /< shaped building, and somebody ran into the bike rack and messed up a bunch of bikes, including the friend’s bike. Pretty lame outdated policy. Maybe try and get a bunch of Pitt employees together to make a fuss about it, find out who made the rule, who can change the rule.

Some people are just pricks and only follow the rule, however asinine it may be. Probably like the facility manager who is having a power trip over you bringing your bike inside.

Get ready to climb the hill of bureaucracy if you want to change it. Alternatively, if you want to make less money, but join a more bike friendly employer, feel free to join CCAC :P You can bring your bike in, our use a bike rack and nobody will screw with it


Noah Mustion
Participant
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My office doesn’t have bike racks. Closest ones are all the way over by PNC Park. I park my bike in a hallway next to all the piled-up office trash (old monitors, boxes of old documents, etc) I’m a little scared I won’t be told about trash day & it’ll get tossed while I’m working unawares…


RickyTickyTac
Participant
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This is really absurd, plain and simple. What i find to be even worse though is that in my time at pitt as a student, which was just a few years ago, I knew a few other students with really nice road bikes that they would never dare leave locked up at night on campus. They put their bikes in their dorm rooms all the time and never had any problems whatsoever. Sounds to me like some jerk just decided to start picking on you.


Mildsnbleu
Participant
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I was a TA for the Civil Environmental Engineering department for about two years and I commuted to Oakland from the Southside. I had a small office in either the lab on the 9th floor or tucked away in the basement. I always brought my bike with me, I even brought it up the elevators when I taught on the nineth floor. Students who visited me, sometimes were cramped for space if it was winter time because of all my winter cycling stuff. No one complained whatsover. Even the department head shot me a compliment for commuting by bike. (We are “Environmental” engineers). My advice is to not make a big stink about it, nothing will come of it. Take your bike in another entrance if that particular guard is there.


myddrin
Participant
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My GF is on the faculty at Pitt and sits on a couple of committees. I asked her about it, hoping she’s was on one that would be able to help.

Unfortunately, she doesn’t but she said that if you are on the faculty, bring it up to the Faculty Senate. If you’re a student, grad student or post-doc bring it up with those organizations.

Having been up at the dental school a number of times, it seems like the bike racks are always pretty packed… so having people with offices store them there seems like a good thing to me… means Pitt spends less on racks and rack maintenance…


dwillen
Participant
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The official response I got last September from facilities management when I asked about more rack space in front of my building or parking my bike in one of the VAST EMPTY spaces within the building:

We have to treat this the same way P&T do cars. No one is guaranteed a parking spot outside their building with an automobile. The same goes for bikes. We only have so much space to park bicycles and putting them inside the building is NOT an option. There are other options– there should be plenty of available space at Trees, the Field House, Petersen, Salk, Victoria, or Lothrup. If those spaces are all taken we can investigate putting additional racks at one of those facilities. However, I am sure if someone really wants to investigate this, they could easily find numerous empty rack space at one of these facilities. Let me know how this works out.

Note that many of those locations are very far away from my building, up very big hills.

In other words, F-off cyclist. Just do what you can IHeartMyBike, go in the back way, park it outside when the dick security guard is there and bring it inside the rest of the time. If you ask facilities, you are going to get answers like this. The university, however green they make themselves out to be, is not very bike friendly.


dwillen
Participant
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raphael
Participant
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What building do you work in? I’ve seen Profs take bikes in the elevators to their offices in both Posvar Hall and the Cathedral quite frequently.


raphael
Participant
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I also like how that picture looks like the university seal from like 1968


dwillen
Participant
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The sign is outside the west entrance to Victoria, it looks very old.


steevo
Participant
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There is a vast difference between a “bike” and

“bike parts” … if they want to be jerks about it,

lock your front wheel to a rack and take your “bike

parts” upstairs.


Pierce
Participant
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One time I got shit from the custodial staff because road slush melted and got on the floor. I think having bikes inside the buildings would be an added inconvenience to the facility people, so if you ask them, obviously it isn’t in their best interest to allow bikes inside.

Telling remark: “We only have so much space to park bicycles and putting them inside the building is NOT an option.”

Why is anything NOT an option? Like will the building implode or something if you bring a bike in?

This sounds like high school bullshit like “you can’t wear a hat in the building”


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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What’s their skateboard policy? What’s their Segway policy? Can you carry your in-line skates into the building? Do you have to lock all those outside, too?

How about a unicycle? My unk and I were inseparable at Geneseo State. Hell, I’d even ride it up and down elevators and along hallways. Winter, too. In classes, I found it fit nicely behind most doorways.


raphael
Participant
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maybe they’re just jealous that they pay $$$ per gallon just to sit on the parkway for an hour to get to work…


surly jason
Participant
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This is more of pitt’s bull-$hit. Institutions of higher learning are supposed to be progressive, forward-thinking, open-minded, etc. Apparently some folks there aren’t and instead point to antiquated regulations and policies from decades ago.

I face the same no-bikes-inside-the-building issue where I work — The owner did, however, indicate that I can park in a garage a block away that they also own. It’s an acceptable compromise, I guess, but it seems silly since my employer doesn’t care where I park my bike — just that I show up !!


rsprake
Participant
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It’s silly when there is a place to store the bike that doesn’t impact other people. We all wear shoes in and out of building all the time and they track in the same puddles, slush etc that a bike does.


edmonds59
Participant
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It’s my experience that a large majority of the people who work in “facilities” live in the distant suburbs, like westmoreland county distant, and think nothing of driving 1 , 1-1/2 hours to work, and their biggest fear is of paying city taxes. Seems like the university of PITTSBURGH ought to have a policy about that.


brian j
Participant
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I think sprite’s point is a good one–at some point in time, something happened that precipitated this policy, and it probably made sense at the time. Given that Pitt has to deal with thousands of students and faculty, the policies likely address the lowest common denominator, which sucks for most reasonable people.

When I worked on Smithfield Street, my employer allowed several of us to bring our bikes into the office. At some point, building management intervened and didn’t like us dragging our wet, slushy bikes on the elevators (which was kinda reasonable, I think). We all talked, and it was decided that we could keep our bikes in the basement of the building (which was behind a locked door). Everyone was happy.

Seems like the best approach would be get interested parties to sit down and figure out a better policy.


raphael
Participant
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The reason I asked where you work is because there are some really sweet bike lock container-ish-things over bey Posvar and David Lawrence Hall. I am not sure how you get one, but I saw someone use it yesterday and I was very impressed.

http://www.pts.pitt.edu/Commuting/downloads/bike_map&brochure.pdf (look for the Bike Lockers Icon)


dwillen
Participant
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I use a bike locker. They are $40/semester ($120/yr) and mostly vacant from what the P&T lady told me when I went in to renew it a couple weeks ago. Seems like they could lower that cost a little, and get more people using them. It is about a kilometer from the building I work in (not ideal).


spakbros
Participant
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The blanket rule is possibly also due lawyers for the school telling them they need the policy?

I think that your time would be better suited following the gaurd with a camera on his rounds, catching him violating a policy himself, and then just walking up and reminding him that you saw it.


dwillen
Participant
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I think a better idea would be to bring the guard some coffee and a muffin and make nice :)


reddan
Keymaster
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+1 dwillen. Honey, vinegar…


bikefind
Participant
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Mix the two for a nice salad dressing. (if you also have some oil, fresh cilantro and garlic, salt and pepper.)


unixd0rk
Participant
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+10 on steevo’s suggestion. these people love following the rule to the letter… let them have it.


Lyle
Participant
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We have to treat this the same way P&T do cars.

I’m sorry, could someone explain where the “have to” comes from? I don’t get that part. But even if they do “have to” treat cars the same way, I don’t think any of us would have a problem with permitting employees to bring their cars into the office too.

“Employees may bring their vehicles into their workspace upon written approval from their direct supervisor.”


dwillen
Participant
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salty
Participant
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If someone finds an effective contact at Pitt I’ll be happy to write a letter – I’m an alum and wouldn’t mind threatening to withhold my meager annual donation to make a point.

When I worked at LRDC, I parked my bike in my office along with a bunch of my coworkers (one of whom dwillen knows :). but, we had a back entrance to take our bikes in outside the eye of any security – i think even then there was a blanket “no bikes” policy. It’s was ridiculous then and even more so now.


edmonds59
Participant
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Someone recently posted about a bike that was stolen from Pitt that sounded like it was locked up in one of the designated parking locations. Everyone who has had a bike stolen needs to send the parking office a letter indicating that Pitt needs to a. pay for a replacement bike, b. provide better security at their designated parking locations, or c. provide conditional permission for personnel to bring their bikes into offices or non-common workspaces.

Which option costs Pitt 0 dollars?


robbie
Participant
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FWIW, I brought my bike into my office when I worked at Pitt. I never saw the building security guard on the way in though.

I’d just try to avoid the guard on the way in. I personally doubt that you’ll get the policy changed University wide, Pitt loves its red tape.

If you see him only rarely you could also try saying that you forgot your lock and you’ll bring it tomorrow.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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I’d be seriously tempted to argue with the guard:

“I’m bringing my bike in with me whether you like it or not, and if you keep it out, you keep me out, and will have to take it up with my boss why I couldn’t come in to work.”

Might be a good idea to talk to your boss about this first to make sure he’s on board with it.

Being forced to lock your bike to a rack in a high bike-theft area like the Pitt campus is like being forced to lock your 2nd set of car keys in the ignition. What’s a pane of glass or a mere lock to someone intent on theft?

Like the Anne Feeney song goes, “A rotten law stays on the books til folks with guts defy it.” [full lyrics & clip, video]

Time to defy the rules.


helen s
Participant
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When I worked at Pitt 1995 to 1999, I used to bring my bike up the elevator to my office in atheltics, which then was in the stadium. No one ever said anything.

My current employer lets us bring bikes in and park in the unused portion at the bottom of a stairwell. Sometimes there are 4 of us parked there.

I think finding someone else in the building (with tenure?) to go to bat for you would help.

You could always bring us their environmental image, one less full car parking space, etc.


PIRATESWS2014
Participant
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The maintenance workers in POSVAR HALL are really anal. I’ve never had a problem with working in my office after hours until I got to Pitt.

Also, there is bike boxes outside of Posvar. I would use one of those if I were you.


robbie
Participant
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FYI, I talked to a friend of mine who is a faculty member at Pitt, and she said she fought this battle 7-8 years ago and got nowhere with changing the policy.

Unless times have changed, I doubt you’ll have better luck.

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