Students travel from Corvallis, leaving many bikes behind

Paul Gasper

Across campus, many bikes remain locked to bike racks, benches and poles after their owners travel home for the summer. These vehicles, being left on campus for extended periods of time, are either stolen or impounded by campus security. 

Jon-Michael McDaniel, Lieutenant of Operations of the Department of Public Safety at Oregon State, leads the team of officers responsible for impounding bicycles. McDaniel described the practices and policies of the university when it comes to abandoned bikes. According to McDaniel, bicycle owners are first warned before their vehicle is impounded by public safety.

“Bicycles may be impounded as abandoned after a notice of impoundment is placed on the bicycle,” McDaniel said. 

McDaniel added that impounded bicycles are stored for a minimum of 30 days by the Department of Public Safety. This policy gives owners a reasonable period of time within which they are able to reclaim their property. After 30 days, bicycles are sold through OSU Property Surplus. 

“It is important that they provide as much information about their bicycle as possible,” McDaniel said. “The serial number is probably the most important because that is a unique number to their bicycles.” 

McDaniel added that it is also important to know the make, model, and color, along with date, time, and location of the last time they saw the bicycle. This way, the Department of Public safety will be able to best prove ownership of the bike. 

For students seeking to give their property a second life, the Corvallis Bicycle Collective accepts donations of bicycles, bicycle parts, or bicycle tools according to their website. Ron Georg, Shop Czar of Corvallis Bike Collective, said that many bikes are left behind because they are unwanted by their original owner. Georg added that the collective takes all bikes but there is a five dollar charge for bikes brought in that will be scrapped. Georg also added that between 500 and 700 bicycles are donated each year by the community. 

Bikes abandoned on campus for an extended period of time also risk being stolen. According to Luke Thomas, an Officer with the Corvallis Police Department, bike theft is a common issue in Corvallis as a whole. 


McDaniel added that all types of bicycles could be stolen on campus. While a bike left on campus may be impounded by the university, there is a chance it may instead be stolen. A stolen bicycle is very difficult to recover as they are often difficult to track.

“One of the best things anybody can do is to register their bike,” McDaniel said. 

OSU, through a partnership with bicycle recovery service Project 529, provides students with a way to register their bikes on a national bike registration, reporting, and recovery website. That way, according to the Project 529 website, students are given access to a common set of tools in the fight against bike theft nationwide. 

According to McDaniel, both OSU Department of Public safety and the Corvallis Police Department use Project 529 to help prevent bicycle theft.