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A Good Problem

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Yonatan Gazit

Photo by Christopher Khew

The bicycle shed had become cluttered before the tagging exercise.

All “untagged” bicycles in Residential College Four’s storage room were thrown out on Thursday, Nov. 13th. The tagging exercise was meant to “certify that it is a bicycle that belongs to a Yale-Nus student,” Martin Vasev ’18 said, who was the point of contact between the administration and students during the tagging process. All the untagged bicycles were assumed to belong to old Residential College Four residents who had abandoned them, and students agreed that the those bicycles needlessly took up space.

The lack of space was due to both the abandoned bikes and increasing cycling on the part of Yale-NUS students. Director of Athletics Khoo Wainright said the latter was intentional. “When we moved in, I started a culture to try and promote people to get around by cycling, or by using their own means …  It is a good thing, but eventually it became a good problem,” he said. The incoming class of 2018, accompanied by their bicycles, only exacerbated the issue further.

The bicycle storage problem led to a growing trend where students kept bikes in rooms and hallways, fire hazards by the Office of Housing Services (OHS) policies. According to Khoo, the tagging idea was suggested by the OHS. “When OHS comes to us, often, to remind us to remind our students not park along the hallways, they suggested that we go through the tagging exercise, which is not dissimilar to what the other Residential colleges within Utown are doing,” he said. “So we are adopting a policy that OHS has, by tagging bicycles so only authorized bikes will be able to park within our premises.”

The effort was executed by Vasev, beginning on Oct. 22 until the date of the bike disposal. In total, Vasev tagged 46 bicycles belonging to Yale-NUS students and faculty. The OHS poster explaining the exercise explicitly said, “Upon expiry of the Registration period, we will proceed to move any bicycles that are without the official tags. These bicycles will be discarded without any further notice.” One student, however, had a different idea of how to deal with the bicycles.

The bikes could be donated to a good cause, Aleithia Low ’17 suggested to OHS. Low said she got her idea from a GOYAC club project earlier in the year donating bicycles to an orphanage.  “They could have actually acquired the bicycles that were going to be discarded here,” she said. Despite the idea’s attractiveness, Yale-NUS could not donate the bikes, since the tagging was done under OHS jurisdiction, and there are legal restrictions against refurbishing, selling, or donating discarded bicycles.

Moving forward, Khoo wants to stress that the bicycle storage room belongs to the community. “Martin has tried many times to unclutter the bike room, so it would help … when you store your bike, think of others who might be storing their bikes as well,” he said.


Correction, 26/01/2015:  It has come to our attention that while the article “A Good Problem” reported that all untagged bicycles in Residential College Four’s storage room were thrown out, only bicycles in bad condition were thrown out. The Yale-NUS administration has clarified that they have always intended to donate the bicycles in good condition.

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