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Mangled ride, rack, relax bikes litter campus

Lindsay Porter /  Reporter

In a large heap on the outskirts of Elon’s Physical Plant lies a pile of the lost and forgotten, those that fought the good fight but spent their last days suffering through rugged use they just weren’t designed for. These are the bikes of Ride, Rack and Relax.

The bikes used for the Ride, Rack and Relax program, a school-sponsored initiative to provide students with access to bikes for cross-campus trips, have become the target of student misuse. In recent weeks, at least two bikes have been spotted and removed from the train tracks that run through campus. Another bike, according to Smith Jackson, dean of Student Life, was left mangled after being struck by a passing train. While no damage was done to the train, Jackson warns that similar incidents could have catastrophic results.

“It’s not probable that a train would derail (because of a bike on the tracks),” he said. “But if a conductor saw something obstructing the tracks and tried to stop immediately, there could be problems.” Furthermore, Jackson explained, the uncertainty of what could potentially result from a bike on the train tracks is not worth the risk.

Another bike was reportedly removed from the train tracks by a team from physical plant before it was struck, said Chuck Gantos, chief of campus safety and police. And yet another was removed on a separate occasion by a campus safety patrol officer. Criminal activity relating to the train tracks falls under the jurisdiction of federal law and railroad police, Gantos said.

Ride, Rack and Relax, which supplies 150-200 bikes to campus and community users, was started more than a year ago. Student Government Association members help promote and monitor the program, but it is ultimately run and funded by the Office of Student Life. It is essentially a community-based program, meaning it operates on the values established by the community in which it functions on an honor system or sorts. When users deviate from expected use of the bikes, the vitality of the program comes into question. “A few students are intentionally damaging (the bikes),” Jackson said. “Students should know that the continuation of the program is contingent upon students not damaging the bikes.”

Chris Morse, SGA president said while the Ride, Rack and Relax program is doing well overall, he believes there is some confusion over the limitation of the Cruiser bikes, which has lead to mounting bike damage this semester.

“These are not mountain bikes,” Morse said. “They’re cruiser bikes, which means they’re designed more for leisure riding. People are jumping on and using them in a way they weren’t meant to be used.” Morse said about 50 bikes are awaiting repairs ranging from simple chain replacements to more complex problems.

“Placing a bike on the train tracks is just a blatant disrespect for the campus and the community,” Morse said.

Contact Lindsay Porter at or 278-7247.