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Robert Henderson bikes to get around Iowa City. It’s his main transportation. He works at Carlos O’Kelly’s cooking, washing dishes and bussing tables. He locks his bicycle behind the building by the dumpster. There’s a locked gate, too, just in case. But one night after finishing his shift, his bike was gone. Someone had cut the bike lock; it was laying on the ground.

“When I do work at night, there’s no buses running so I had to walk home,” Henderson said. “It’s very frustrating cause I had to walk home at night, and I’m coming off two broken toes that I dropped the dresser on.”

Unfortunately, Henderson isn’t alone. In Iowa City, where biking is as ingrained in the culture as Saturday football and statues of books, bike theft is a persistent feature of life.

At the Bike Library, reports of stolen bikes are a daily occurrence.

“It’s nearly every day, and it has been that way for a long time,” said Audrey Wiedemeier, the Bike Library’s executive director.

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Around 2.5 percent of UI students and 6.25 percent of faculty and staff bike as their primary mode of transportation; 76 percent of students and 41 percent of faculty and staff use their bike as an alternative mode, said Michelle Ribble, commuter programs manager at UI.

There are just over 5,600 bicycle parking spaces on the university campus, and on average, 2,200 are parked on campus at midday. High bike traffic at the university, downtown and throughout Iowa City gives bike thieves all the opportunity they need.


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