Despite the coronavirus crisis, Erasmus University’s security team went ahead and removed abandoned bikes from the campus, a university spokesperson told us. Why? Because having too many abandoned bikes around makes the campus look untidy. “International students leave their bikes here when they return to their home countries,” an EUR spokesperson stated. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the university has been a little more accommodating this year than usual.
“The bikes were removed in the same way they generally are”, EUR’s spokesperson told us. “Mid June, security guards affixed small cards to the bikes, saying that the guards would remove the bike if the card were still affixed to the bike on 31 July. However, due to the coronavirus crisis, they didn’t actually start removing the bikes until mid-August.”
The removal action was only announced on campus, by means of the cards affixed to the bikes. No warning was given online or on social media, according to the spokesperson. As a result, staff and students who had been working or studying from home for months and were nowhere near their bikes when the security guards affixed the cards did not know that their bicycles would be removed if they failed to remove the cards. The university acknowledges that this was not the best idea, and has committed to communicating removal actions online from now on. “We’ll change that, starting from this academic year.”
Landfill, thrift shop, bike shop
For what it’s worth: compared with previous years, not many bikes were removed this summer, according to EUR’s spokesperson. In normal summers, the security team will typically fill up three containers with abandoned bikes. This summer, the security team only removed one container’s worth of bikes from the campus. One container generally holds about 250 bikes. “And some of the bikes were rented bikes. We returned those to the Kralingse Zoom metro stop.”
After having been collected in mid-August, the bikes remained in storage on the Woudestein Campus until late August, on the off chance that bike owners looking for their bikes would contact the security guards. After that, the bikes were taken to landfill, as they are every year.
The university was unable to get rid of the bikes in any other way. As EUR’s spokesperson admitted, “That is a pity. We tried to donate the bikes to bike shops or thrift shops, but they don’t want them. So unfortunately, we had no other choice.”