Bicycle Policy

The University has 2.5 miles of bicycle paths on the Evanston campus connected to Evanston’s bicycle rights-of-way. Bicycle riding is prohibited on the following streets:

Evanston ordinances prohibit riding bicycles on the sidewalks in the downtown business district at any time or in other districts where signs are posted. Where riding on sidewalks is permitted, cyclists are required to yield the right of way to any pedestrian, give an audible signal before overtaking or passing others, and have the bicycle under control at all times. Ordinances also prohibit operating a bicycle after dark without a white front headlight and a red rear reflector (visible from 500 feet away) or riding a bicycle in an unsafe or reckless manner, or in a way that obstructs traffic. Helmets are required for riders under the age of 18, but all students are strongly encouraged to wear helmets and use other safety gear. Violations of city ordinances are subject to a fine of up to $500. To read the complete set of Evanston ordinances regarding bicycles, see the Evanston City Code (Title 10, Chapter 9).

Bicycles stored or parked on campus must be registered with the University Police Department. Registration is free of charge and may be completed online here. Bicycles that are properly registered with the police are much easier to identify and recover should they be stolen or removed.

Owners are highly encouraged to lock and secure their bicycles at all times. Bicycles must be kept in designated areas, which include bicycle racks and bicycle storage rooms. Bikes that are locked to anything other than designated bike parking areas, including those secured to railings, stairwells, handicapped access ramps, posts, or benches or that are parked in hallways, doorways, or rooms in residence halls or academic buildings, create a safety hazard in the event of fire and are subject to removal at the owner’s expense. The University will not reimburse individuals for locks that have been cut to remove bicycles not parked in bicycle racks or storage rooms. The University shall not be responsible for any bicycles illegally secured in campus buildings or on campus property or abandoned on University property.

It is also important to ensure that riders can easily access University bike racks to safely store them when on campus. The bicycle racks on campus are intended for short-term bike parking and must not be used for long-term storage.  Bicycles that appear to have been abandoned within designated bike parking areas will be tagged with a purple “Notice of Violation” and ultimately removed by the University Facilities Management. 

Students who have had an illegally parked or abandoned bicycle removed should contact Facilities Management, 847-491-5201, to identify their bike. Bikes can be claimed at the Facilities Management Customer Service Desk located at 2020 Ridge Ave (2nd Fl.). Hours of operation are between 7:00AM – 4:30PM, Monday through Friday. There is a $25 reclaim fee payable by check or money order to Northwestern University due at the time of pick up. In addition, to verify ownership, the bike lock key or the combination must be presented at the time of payment. Bikes will be stored in the University storage area for a minimum of 30 days. After 30 days the impounded bicycles are donated to a local charity.

To read the complete Northwestern University bicycle policy, see p. 66 of the Student Handbook.