By Tawseef Ali
When James Grayson, a first semester student and avid motorcyclist, approached the Student Government Association and then the student newspaper, he was hoping to find a solution.
His concern: A&M-San Antonio’s Brooks City-Base Campus has no designated motorcycle parking.
Prior to the renovation, a slab of concrete was the preferred parking area for students to park two-wheeled vehicles because it was separated from vehicular parking. The remodeled lot was expanded to just under 500 vehicle spaces, according to Brooks Development Authority.
To their credit, BDA or university facilities were not aware of motorcycle parking because it wasn’t a formally marked or designated area, but students are still feeling the stress.
Grayson, an information technologies junior, owns a Kawasaki zzr 600, and a Kawasaki Ninja 250. He uses them to commute between school and work.
“My other bike was hit in a parking lot earlier this year and the person drove off, resulting in damages over $1,600,” he said in an email. Insurance did not cover the full damage. “Any rider will tell you they love their bikes to death, and would hate for anything to happen to it,” Grayson said.
Other students responded that a motorcycle parking section at Brooks Campus would be helpful.
Responding to a query on The Mesquite Facebook page, finance junior Xavier Lara wrote: “Improvements? Didn’t know. Still been taking up a whole spot in the front Brooks when I park my bike.”
Another motorcycle commuting student, Anthony Rodriguez, also commented through Facebook. He said he likes “the improvements to the parking lot. Maybe they could have gave us 6 parking spots, which is equivalent to 2 car parking spots.”
Mac McCarthy, director of facilities and infrastructure at Brooks Development Authority, said the parking lot was renovated to honor Brooks Development Authority’s lease with Texas A&M-San Antonio as well as regular maintenance. However, he could not recall if there was designated motorcycle parking present before the renovations.
The Brooks Development Authority contracted a local construction service, Alamo 1 to renovate the parking lot over the duration of summer.
In the process, a row of 3-feet-high concrete dividers was removed to make room for vehicular parking. As recently as the spring term, at least a dozen scooters or motorcycles were typically parked in that area. Now, they are hard to spot.
This is a legitimate concern for all students, no matter what mode of transportation they choose. Motorcyclists have to obtain a parking pass of equal value, but their needs are different from heavier four-wheeled vehicles.
When parking in a regular vehicle space, motorcycles are less visible, especially in the dark. Repairs are expensive and student drivers would normally refrain from being courteous enough to leave insurance information if they tip a motorcycle over. Also, intense summer heat can cause asphalt to expand, and make the motorcycle lose its balance.
Salesperson Jason Carter at the Alamo Cycle-plex, suggests using concrete layers for motorcycle parking as opposed to asphalt. It is the affordable alternative, and used for the Alamo Cycle-Plex’s own parking lot. Concrete prevents motorcycle kickstands from sinking in under high temperatures, Carter said.
Dedicated parking for motorcyclists is a practical idea. It is ideal for all two-wheeled vehicles to park in a designated area which would also allow the University Police Department to prevent theft. Most local colleges and universities utilize such spaces including A&M-San Antonio’s Main Campus.
Brooks Campus currently lacks such spaces but according to Grayson there are good reasons why designated parking should be a part of the university’s future plans.
Designated motorcycle parking would also appeal to four-wheel vehicle drivers too. A single motorcycle occupying one regular sized parking space can be difficult to see and a waste of parking space.
Richard Green, assistant professor in the College of Business commutes to and from campus on a scooter. Since he prefers using the center pivot of his QLink Pegasus 150, he does not mind the surface, but said he would prefer designated space.
“Would have been nice if we were asked,” Green said in regards to parking lot renovations. He also mentioned that there were students commuting via bicycles, and there are no provisions offered for such transport at the Brooks Campus either. Without bike racks, students lock their bicycles to the building’s metal entrance ways to prevent theft.
Kevin Barton, associate professor of Computer Information Systems, rides his bicycle to school from the San Antonio’s Westside. His commute is roughly 9.3 miles and he locks his bicycle to any tree or pole he can find. Barton recommended adding bike racks, when approached by a reporter for his viewpoint.
“I had been locking it to a tree because there is no other place,” said Barton, as he was preparing to ride home.
Considering cost, and the fact that A&M-San Antonio is occupying Brooks Campus for the foreseeable future, bike racks should be added and the concrete spaces on the northeast side of the building in front could be re-marked for motorcycles. In addition to continuing to provide improvements, university facilities and BDA should work together to add space for bicycles, motorcycles and scooters to accommodate students’ needs.