Yukon College has rescinded a plan to charge monthly fees for its newly-installed outdoor bike lockers.
The set of 12 lockers will now be offered for only a $24 key deposit, to be refunded upon return of the locker key.
College officials had originally intended to offer the lockers at a non refundable fee of $25 a month.
The fee riled cyclists and environmental proponents.
“It doesn’t really make sense, if you’re trying to reduce climate change, to provide free parking and free plug-ins in the wintertime, and not at least provide free lockers for bikes,” said Karen Baltgailis, executive director of the Yukon Conservation Society.
The policy reversal was the right thing to do, said Baltgailis.
The intended rental cost of a Yukon College bike locker would have exceeded bike locker rental fees charged by other Canadian municipalities and post-secondary institutions.
Toronto offers downtown bike locker rental for $10 a month plus GST.
The University of Victoria charges $32 for a four-month bike locker term.
Bike locker rental is offered free at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver.
Yukon College spokesperson Tanis Davey said the proposed fee plan was all just a big mistake.
Announced during the short absence of college president Terry Weninger, the fee plan had been hatched without official consent.
“I think that it was set up just internally administratively … there was never an intent to charge for the bike lockers,” she said.
“When the president came back he said ‘Nope, let’s stay true to (Yukon College’s green initiatives) and make sure that we don’t charge,’” she said.
Last Thursday, Davey told CBC that the fees were necessary to help the college cover the high cost of the lockers.
“The college does want to encourage people to use green forms of transportation — the bike storage containers is one of many green initiatives that the college has been working on,” she said.
The bike lockers had been introduced based on repeated requests from bicycle-commuting staff.
A main argument for the lockers was that they provide peace of mind for those worried about bicycle theft, something that may encourage people with more expensive bikes to begin commuting to the college.
The lockers also carry the obvious benefit of shielding bicycles from the elements.
“It’s just nice to have a spot where you keep your bike seat dry,” said Davey.
Part-time environmentalist Lewis Rifkind touted other locker benefits.
“When it gets cold, you shouldn’t bring bikes inside. Because of the temperature differences you can get weird cracking happening on the plastic tubing and all that sort of stuff,” he said.
Yukon College is the first institution to introduce bike lockers into the Yukon, but they are making a splash across urban centres down south.
The large rectangular plastic boxes are already a familiar sight at SkyTrain stations, shopping centres and public institutions across Vancouver.
The lockers could provide noted benefits for bicycle-mounted shoppers, perhaps placing the Whitehorse business community next in line to adopt a bicycle storage initiative.
“You know when you go into a store, they don’t like you bringing in bags from another store? … If you’ve got a car it’s fine, you can just put your bags in your car, but now you can do the same with bike lockers,” he said.
Of the 12 new bike lockers, six are located at the front entrance of the college, and six are located at the back.