Bike culture grows at Capilano University

Facilities working with architectural firm to improve bike storage security on campus

Carlo Javier // Editor-in-Chief
Christine Beyleveldt // News Editor

Members of the Capilano University community who cycle to and from campus can soon tuck their bicycles away in secure and covered storage spaces. Carscadden Stokes McDonald Architects Inc. won a tender process to reserve the right to design and construct a bicycle storage building for CapU. According to Bill Demopoulos, Sustainability and Facilities manager, a design is expected to be ready by the end of the fiscal year on Mar. 31, with construction dependent on budget availability and priority levels of other projects.

Demopoulos estimated that a small storage building could cost between $100,000 and $250,000. With three prototype designs from Carscadden, he expects the University to select and build one and gauge the need for further projects after the completion of the initial launch.

While a location has yet to be determined, Mark Woytuik, intern architect for Carscadden, suggested that community feedback would act as an important voice in securing a location. According to Woytuik, auxiliary features, beyond just a simple storage has been a constant variable in feedback returns. “Some of the feedback has been about whether people want, for example, a shower facility associated with the bike storage,” he said. “Things like that will help determine a location because there are only so many shower accessible locations on campus already.”

Determining a location would be paramount for the developers as the foremost shower facilities on campus are in the Sportsplex at the southern end of the campus. “There will be some drastically differing opinions about where that shelter should go or could go, because some people are using the north end of campus, some people are using the south end of campus,” said Woytuik. “We try to take that into account and have developed some options based on the feedback we’ve received.”

A Jan. 18 survey conducted by Carscadden at CapU revealed that members of the CapU community who are interested in bike shelters are most concerned about security and access to repair tools. Non-committal cyclists responded that a covered storage facility could convince them to cycle more often to campus.

The security of bicycles is a particularly important factor not just for Demopoulos, but also for security manager Graeme Kennedy. In recent semesters, the RCMP has apprehended some people who persist in trying to steal bicycles. A notable incident happened off campus at CapU’s Dollarton Highway residence, where first-year digital visual effects student Hriday Jotsinghani fell victim to a bike thief. Though cameras constantly monitor the residence’s outdoor bike rack, an elderly woman was able to steal two bicycles as well as the seat off Jotsinghani’s bike one morning.

For Demopoulos, providing a secure space for bicycles is an important element in protecting the properties of CapU students, faculty and staff. Bicycles can now cost anywhere from $1,500 to $6,000. Even though security monitors campus grounds, thefts do still occur. “I think the more important issue really is the issue of theft,” he said. “I think that’s what we’re really respecting is the value of these bikes and you know protection from the elements and protection from nasty people who like to steal bikes for a few cycles.”

While the security that a locked storage building is the premium benefit of a bike shelter, Demopoulos added that the comfort it provides couldn’t be overlooked. “Even the most hardened riders who are willing to cycle in all conditions don’t want their bike sitting out in the rain,” he said.

Moreover, Demopoulos hopes for a potential culture shift regarding cycling and CapU. “That’s certainly the hope,” he said. “I think in general it takes more than just the bike shelter, but we have some of those other things in place and I’d like to see more emphasis put on cycling culture.” He deems that “a little bit of trail work” and more cooperative projects with the District of North Vancouver are essential steps in making CapU more accessible for cyclists, especially for those coming via the Ironworkers Bridge over the Second Narrows.

Another possibility on the horizon is the integration of more electric bike-friendly amenities. Demopoulos knows that the relatively steep hill that leads to CapU can be a deterrent for most cyclists, and providing features to alleviate this issue could help encourage more cycling to CapU. “I think if we can sort out some of the charging issues, whether it be through this or facilities or some other mechanism we might see more people riding just because they can use an electric bike to get up,” he said.

Sustainability has already tried to tackle the integration of more electric bikes on campus. Three electric bike providers came to campus for Sustainability Week in October 2016 to show off their products and give students a chance to test them out. However, the event was rained out and there weren’t as many trials as Demopoulos would’ve liked.

The construction of a bike shelter on CapU is still tentative, but with official design proposals to be revealed this Spring, it might not be long before bike racks become a thing of the past.

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