It’s that time of year again. Parents are sending their children off to college. And for many students, that means bringing a bike along with them. Biking is a great way to get around campus, save money on parking, and stay in shape. But before you pack your bike in the car and head off to school, there are some things you need to consider.
11 Things To Consider If You Should Bring A Bike to College?
- Will you ride it enough?
- Is there a place to park it?
- How much does parking or storage cost?
- Is your dorm or closet big enough?
- Does your college allow it?
- Can you keep it safe from thieves?
- What type of accessories do you need?
- Is the college pedestrian and bike-friendly?
- Do you have the money to maintain it?
- Can you rent one instead?
- The Local Weather
These are a few important things to consider before you decide to bring your bike to college with you. Let’s take a closer look at each one to help you determine what’s best for you.
#1 Will You Ride It Enough?
According to this transit survey, 47% of students, staff, and faculty ride their bikes to and from campus. Riding a bike can be a great way to save gas, money, and time. But if you’re not planning on riding your bike regularly, it might not be worth bringing it with you to school.
Having a bike and not riding it wastes space and money. If you think you’ll only ride your bike a few times each semester, it might be better to leave it at home or consider renting one when you need it.
#2 Is There A Place to Park It?
One of the most important things to consider before bringing your bike to college is whether or not there’s a place to park it. Many campuses have bike racks or bike storage facilities, but not all do. And if your school doesn’t have a place to store bikes, finding a safe place to keep yours can be challenging.
If your school doesn’t have a place to store the bike on campus, it’s best to leave it at home. You don’t want to pay for an off-campus storage site. Otherwise, you’re less likely to ride it.
In addition, most campus storage facilities will offer a student discount to help you save money.
Before you bring your bike to college, make sure there’s a secure place to park it. Also, you want to ensure the bike is close enough to jump out of bed and ride to class.
#3 How Much Does Parking or Storage Cost?
Another critical factor to consider is the cost of parking or storing your bike on campus. Many colleges and universities charge a fee for bike parking, which can add up over time. The cost of parking or storing your bike can range from $25-$100 per year, depending on the college.
That said, all colleges require students to pay for a vehicle decal, which allows them to park their vehicles on campus. So whether you drive a car or ride a bike, you must purchase a decal.
This isn’t something you can avoid, as most colleges require students and faculty to secure their bikes on racks or designated areas. Those that don’t secure or register their bicycles according to the regulations are subject to a citation and the bicycle being locked by Public Safety personnel.
#4 Is Your Dorm or Closet Big Enough?
Another thing to consider is whether or not you have enough space for your bike in your dorm room or closet. Bikes can take up a lot of space, so if you’re already cramped for space, it might not be worth bringing yours with you.
If you have a small dorm room or closet, leave your bike at home or consider renting one when you need it. You can also try looking for an off-campus apartment with more storage space for your bike.
Another thing to consider is your roommate. If you’re living with someone, you’ll want to check with them if they don’t mind you bringing your bike. Some people won’t like having a bike in the dorm because it can track in dirt and make the room dirty.
#5 Does Your College Allow It?
Not all colleges allow students to bring bikes on campus, so you must check with your school before you decide to bring yours. In addition, some schools have restrictions on where bikes can be ridden and stored.
If you’re going to a prominent University, such as Colorado State University, you won’t have a problem. It is considered a “bike lover’s college.” At the time of this writing, it offers over 17,000 bike parking spaces and has invested heavily in bicycle program services. In addition, the college offers many programs that make riding, maintaining, and parking a bike a breeze.
However, if you’re attending a small local college, they likely won’t have a dedicated department for bicyclists. In addition, many don’t have the funds to provide student bicycle parking.
#6 Can You Keep It Safe From Thieves?
Unfortunately, bikes are often targeted by thieves. There are a few things you can do to help keep your bike safe, such as:
- Investing in a good bike lock
- Locking your bike up in a well-lit area
- Registering your bike with the campus police
Most thieves will target higher-end bicycles such as; mountain, road, and racing bikes. These types of bikes are often more expensive and easier to resell. If you have a more expensive bike, it’s important to take extra precautions to keep it safe.
#7 What Type of Accessories Do You Need?
Riding a bike on or off campus requires you to have a helmet, a light, and a few other safety gear. If you don’t already have these items, you’ll need to purchase them before you can ride your bike.
You’ll also want to consider purchasing a bike rack to make it easier to transport your bike on and off campus. Expect to pay around $80-$200, depending on where you purchase it.
#8 Is The College Pedestrian and Bike Friendly?
Most college towns are very pedestrian and bike friendly. Many larger universities offer designated bike paths, bike safety classes, and a network of greenways. Before loading up your bike, visit the college and town on the weekend.
This will help you get a feel for the campus and see if there are places you can ride your bike. If the college is not pedestrian or bike friendly, it might be best to leave your bike at home.
#9 Do You Have The Money to Maintain It?
All bicycles require maintenance, whether you ride them or not. Bikes that are ridden more require more frequent tune-ups than bikes not ridden.
Be prepared to spend around $100 – $300 per year on maintenance and repairs.
Maintenance costs include tune-ups, new tires, chains, and cables. If you don’t already know how to do essential maintenance, you’ll need to learn or take it to a bike shop.
If you can’t afford to maintain your bike, it’s probably best to leave it at home. College is expensive enough, and you don’t want your bike to become a financial burden.
#10 Can You Rent One Instead?
You don’t have to bring your bike to pedal around the college. Some colleges offer a bike share program. This is when the college provides bikes for students to use on and around campus. The bike share program is often free or very affordable.
The downside is that some colleges are doing away with these programs because they find the bikes abandoned on campus, locked improperly to signs, poles, stairwells, and other places not allowed.
#11 What’s the Weather Like?
The weather is another critical factor to consider when deciding if you should bring your bike to college. If you attend school in a place with severe weather conditions, bringing your bike might not be the best idea.
For example, if you live in Colorado and attend school in the mountains, you might not want to bring your bike. The weather is often too cold and snowy to ride.
On the other hand, if you go to school in Florida, you’ll probably be able to ride year-round. Just be prepared for the occasional hurricane and extreme humidity.
What Do You Have to Do To Use Your Bicycle On Campus?
Most campuses have their own bicycle rules and regulations, so you must check with your school before bringing yours. However, even if your college or university has no specific rules, there are still some general things you should do to make sure you can use your bicycle on campus.
You’ll need to register your bicycle online or stop by the office for instructions to use your bicycle on campus. Most schools will want the following:
- Serial Number
- Frame Size
- Wheel Size
Once registered, the school will likely provide you with a school sticker or permit that must be placed on the longest bar of the bike.
Biking around campus and college towns is extremely popular, and many schools have bike-sharing programs you can use. However, if you prefer riding your personal bike, make sure your college meets the criteria above.
There are over 5,300 colleges and universities throughout the United States; unfortunately, not all of them cater to cyclists.
But if your school does, bringing your bike with you to college can be a great way to experience everything your campus and town have to offer.