USC officials ban bikes from campus; more enlightened UCLA wins Metro award

You don’t have to go to Blackhawk, Colorado or  St. Charles County, Missouri to find misguided leaders banning — or attempting to ban — bikes.

You only have to go as far as the University of Southern California campus.

Just days after a writer in the school’s Daily Trojan called on university officials to develop a more effective way of dealing with USC’s estimated 10,000 to 15,000 bikes a day, Dr. Charles E. Lane, Associate Senior Vice President for Career and Protective Services, responded in typically kneejerk fashion by banning bikes from the two major pedestrian thoroughfares on campus — one of which is listed as a bike lane on Metro’s new bike map.

It’s not that careless riding isn’t a problem. In fact, in a story about the ban, LADOT Bike Blog reports that a majority of students surveyed claimed to have been hit by a bike two or less times in the past year. Although the same study also shows that a majority of students feel bike congestion on campus is average or not a problem.

But the solution isn’t banning bikes. Especially not by an institution dedicated to higher education.

As LADOT BB and the Daily Trojan both point out, the problem isn’t bikes, or even the high number of bikes on campus. It’s the university’s complete and total failure to do anything to accommodate bikes or educate students on how to ride safely.

But instead of doing something about it — just what part of education don’t they understand? — they respond by banning bikes from a large segment of the school, and asking incoming freshmen to leave their bikes at home.

Then again, this is the same school that ticketed cyclists for riding in the crosswalk — even though that’s legal anywhere it’s legal to ride on the sidewalk.

Like L.A., for instance.

Now contrast USC’s bike ban with archrival UCLA, which actually encourages students and employees to ride to campus, and gives them secure places to park once they get there. Not to mention all the other schools that are busy implementing their own bike share programs, not banning them.

For a school that claims to be a leading educational institution, USC gets an F in transportation planning.

………

Congratulations to the far more bike-friendly UCLA Transportation and the UCLA Sustainable Resource Center, who will be honored tonight for their short film Bike-U-mentary.

Directed by Brent Parnell, it looks at Herbie Huff and Mihai Peteu, campus bike commuters active in L.A.’s cycling community, and offers their perspectives on riding to campus and how to get started with bike commuting in the Los Angeles area.

The film will receive a Metro Rideshare Diamond Award at a ceremony this evening.

………

The League of American Bicyclists is out with their latest list of Bicycle Friendly Communities.

Davis remains the only city in California to earn Platinum Status, along with Boulder CO and Portland OR. Palo Alto, San Francisco and Stanford University — not USC — remain Gold, while Folsom, the Presidio of San Francisco, San Louis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz are Silver. Long Beach and Santa Monica retain the Bronze status, along with Thousand Oaks, Irvine, Riverside, Santa Clarita. Honorable Mention goes to Menlo Park, Merced, North Lake and Palm Desert.

Los Angeles evidently remains in the dishonorable category, despite our Mayor’s Road to Damascus — or in this case, Culver City — conversion to bicycle advocate.

And don’t get me started on those Trojans.

………

Joaquin Rodriguez enjoys the red leader’s jersey on Vuelta’s Tuesday rest day, then loses it in a disastrous time trial as Vincenzo Nibali survives a wheel change to claim the lead. And this year’s Tour of Britain turns into absolute carnage.

A new website says Lance Armstrong needs your help to fight doping allegations; isn’t that the approach Floyd Landis took? Meanwhile, Armstrong’s Team RadioShack gets a belated invitation to the Tour of Lombardy.

………

Santa Monica’s Agensys development is approved with no bike path, though the City Council did toss in a few bucks to ease the pain. L.A City Council candidate Stephen Box takes current Councilmember Greig Smith for overreacting to complaints about new bike lanes on Wilbur Ave, and LADOT for not doing enough to avoid the problem. LADOT Bike Blog concludes its study of sidewalk riding in Los Angeles County with a look at the eastern San Gabriel Valley; evidently, the Claremont Cyclist is on his own. Streetsblog offers a photo tour of Long Beach’s new Vista Street bike boulevard. Authorities continue to investigate the woman who switched seats with her drunk boyfriend and drove away after he killed a German cyclist in San Francisco. The U.S. Department of Transportation is planning a Distracted Driving Summit on Tuesday the 21st, with online access for those of us at work or home. Time looks at where the transportation stimulus funds went. More women now bike in New York. If an angry driver would murder someone over a speed bump, what would they do over a road diet — or God forbid, a bike boulevard? The inaugural Crooked Roubaix takes riders on dirt roads through the Colorado high country at up to 10,000 feet elevation and temperatures as low as the 20s; hopefully they read these tips on fall riding wear. A Portland school reverses a ban on biking and encourages riding to class. The Guardian asks why a woman on a bike has to deal with sexual comments from jerks. Bike friendly Nottingham has been named England’s least car-dependant city, while Southport offers a bike-friendly escape for vacationing Brits. Rescued by a knight in shiny red overalls with a tire pump. Feast your eyes on the new 2011 Pinarellos and the Canyon Strive enduro bike.

Finally, a new campaign warns London cyclists of the dangers posed by large trucks but may only discourage people from riding, while cyclists launch their own campaign to get dangerous trucks off the streets.

13 comments

  1. Thanks for the kudos of the bike program at UCLA. We’re always striving to get better. Recently, we took a closer look at our sharrows and reevaluated street widths on the main thoroughfare into our campus; produced the aforementioned bike documentary; and are trying to figure out a way to deal with the (unreliable) bike lockers on our campus.

  2. Eric B says:

    I’m terribly embarrassed by my alma mater. I never thought I’d say that.

    It was clear when I was engaging them on these issues my senior year that they were not thinking about it in the right way. Without any strategy for dealing with circulation on campus, it’s not really surprising they would go in this direction. It’s emblematic of a university that fails to work with its student body on issues on a whole host of levels.

  3. “…hit by a bike two or less times in the past year”

    Isn’t zero less than two? Couldn’t you have the majority of the student population not getting hit by bikes AT ALL and still use that statistic?

    UCLA isn’t without its own problems, like the bike lockers as Sirinya mentioned. UCLA has dismount zones where cyclists must walk their bikes or face a hefty $202 fine. However, USC has gone several steps further. Ridiculous. Maybe Critical Mass will go back this month.

    • bikinginla says:

      Indeed you could. Without seeing the actual results, I’m taking the good professor at his word that the survey indicates that a problem. I’m guessing that the options to answer the question of getting hit by a bike was phrased along the lines zero; 1 – 2; 3 – 4; or 5 or more. But I could be wrong.

      Maybe some enterprising prankster needs to saw a steel frame bike in half and attach it to Tommy Trojan so he can ride on campus.

  4. Chewie says:

    What?! This is ridiculous. USC has a strong bike culture and banning bikes from major pedestrian routes isn’t the answer. That’s like banning all cars because some drivers are reckless.

    USC should be celebrating its strong bike culture, not banning it.

  5. patrick says:

    From my experience, UCLA’s campus clearly offers safer and superior bicycle amenities, it is easier to approach USC. Compare riding the bike lanes down Hoover Street with Sunset Blvd. or Wilshire. Both institutions have work to do to truly make bicycle commuting a safe, realistic option.

  6. Wow, USC, this is ridiculous. If you look at the League of American Bicyclists’ list of Bicycle Friendly Communities, you’ll notice that many of them are college towns, because college towns tend to be ahead of the rest of the communities when it comes to using bikes and feet to get around.

    Most college campuses are too large to get from one end to the other by walking during a short between-class break, and it’s usually easier to hop on a bike than drive and look for a parking space. Figure in the whole starving college student thing, and many students (and staff) bike because they can’t afford cars.

    I find this only a little bit ironic that the League of American Bicyclists announced its new Bicycle Friendly University program on Monday (Sept. 13). I don’t think USC will be winning this award soon. http://www.bicyclenewswire.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.showreleasemore&id=2720

  7. Eric B says:

    The USC campus itself is extremely dense and therefore experiences “congestion” that can be quite harrowing at “peak hours.” But the university continues to ignore how students get to campus and provide for them. As the university continues to expand outward, people will need to travel longer distances on a regular basis. The most economical and efficient way to do this is by bike.

    Alternative policies could have been just as effective, for example: prohibit talking/texting while riding. A huge percentage of collisions are caused by people simple not paying attention to where they’re going. It’s common practice to cruise down Trousdale with no hands on the bars texting away.

    The shortage of bike parking is a far greater issue, and it seems that they prefer to not address it at all.

    The lack of secure bike parking for long-distance commuters is ridiculous. Students, faculty, and staff commute from neighborhoods all over LA, but unless you’re lucky enough to have an office to store your ride, you’re out of luck. USC continues to be the hottest spot in LA for bike theft, so any bike worth more than $50 should not be left outside.

    The list of problems goes on and on, and none of them are solved by this ban.

  8. Michael says:

    Excuse my ignorance, but I am just not that familiar with the USC campus. My own alma mater (UCSB) is apparently the only university on the LAB Bicycle Friendly Business list with a gold or higher rating, but even they have areas where bikes are prohibited. The campus does have a very extensive system of bike paths, and maybe that is the difference. When I was there rarely did there seem to be a need to ride in pedestrian only areas, since the paths would get you where you need to go. I would think that what the planners at USC should consider are the reasons students are riding where they do; a lack of alternative routes perhaps? If that is the case, then this does not seem like a bike problem, but rather, a planning problem best addressed by making suitable adjustments. Seems like an outright ban is a rather shortsighted and counter-productive response.

  9. reb1 says:

    I guess you will just have to ride your bicycles on the road like people do in there cars. Then you can dismount and walk your bicycle on your way to the bicycle racks as you cross campus. This was bound to happen. They may change there mind if they can get people riding there bicycles to pay attention and not crash into pedestrians.
    Places where they allow bicycling on other campuses were mentioned. Those places have rules that are enforced. They also have some mutual cooperation.
    In 1982 the same kind of problems were happening were my wife went to school. The school and surrounding area was quite hilly. At one end of the university there was a path that came from a neighborhood onto campus they widened it and there was a pipe railing between the pedestrian side and the bicycling side. They painted directional signs in the bicycling side and there were signs at the entrances at both ends letting students know what was expected. They made rules about when riding through campus was allowed and not allowed. They had meetings with the students to reinforce the rules. The campus police handed out tickets also.
    I was on my way to campus with the tandem and the three tots in the cart going up the steep path one afternoon to meet up with the wife. A student coming down the path on the wrong side cleared me and the tandem but nailed the cart. I guess he was doing about 35mph on his MTB. Can you say ouch. He was lucky that daddy was rich. Because his face was severely injured. A group of four riders on the pedestrian side of the path doing pretty much the same thing one evening nailed a coed. She is alive but will never walk without pain. Another rider killed a coed a couple of years later. She was riding up the hill on the correct side and a male student hit her head on braking her neck. These are the worst of the criminal acts that I happen to know of. I love to bicycle but will not put pedestrians through what motorists have put me through over the years.
    The community needs to get together and make some rules with penalties that have teeth and work it out. It is unacceptable for any of the walking students to be struck by somebody riding there bicycle. If I am riding my bicycle through an area that gets congested with people walking I slow down. I even get of of my bicycle and walk if needed. I have mentioned before that my wife has been hit from behind while walking on the sidewalk close to our dwelling. I don’t think the college hates bicycles. I believe they are being pushed around and now they are pushing back. It takes money to do more infrastructure and add police or security. Without the cooperation of the riders this a loosing situation. I believe with the crunch on available funds they reacted in what manner they new how. The foolish act of others not obeying the rules and the people pushing for more spending were probably the straw that broke the camels back.
    If students really want to ride to school freshman or otherwise they should continue to do so. This means they will need to obey the current rules. So far they have only told you where you can’t ride and sent out notes to incoming freshman that can only suggest not riding bicycles.

    Disrespect toward the ladies is a problem that some of us men do not notice. If we do not happen to come upon a seen where it is happening we just don’t have a clue as to how intimidating or dangerous it can be. As a young man in the Army in 1977 I rode a bicycle with the Tacoma Wheelmen. One Saturday morning early I left the base and met a group of riders at there starting point. We were pedaling toward Crystal Lake on a highway with a wide shoulder. We were spread out in small groups. Ahead of me I noticed a small motor home weaving toward some riders. I and two other riders started sprinting toward the RV. As we closed the distance we picked up on the vulgar comments coming from the RV. We were almost upon the RV when it swerved over and the mirror hit the young lady who had been the center of there unwanted attention. She died while waiting for an Ambulance from head injuries. The vehicle fled the seen. A state trooper found them several hours later. They were easy to spot because of a broken rear light fixture and several large dents from club members. It seems they were only having fun. After this the Saturday and Sunday morning rides were tense to say the least. All somebody had to do was look at one of the ladies the wrong way and several of us would get on them. In 1982 I was going to a trade tech. I headed home that afternoon and was around a mile from my apt when I noticed a girl with road rash and bloody torn clothing. She was walking her road bike with a taco for a front wheel on the sidewalk next to the road I was traveling on. She had been the victim of somebody just having fun. After talking to the dean of students at the local university where she went he called in the driver of the vehicle and his passenger for a sit down. The passenger showed shame for his actions and his father took care of the emergency room bills and also donated a years tuition to the injured student. The driver had a so what attitude and was dismissed on code of conduct violations. The girl with the road rash has been my wife for almost 26 years. She rides on a tandem with me or on her single MTB with my son but hates to be alone while riding. Can you guess why.
    I like many of you have been treated to vulgar language and threats of all kinds while riding my bicycle. I have been swerved at brushed, cut off and any number of stupid things. I being a man have come out of it with very little injury. You know I can not remember anybody ever talking about my body or what they would like to use it for. I believe if somebody did I would be in jail right next to the likes of Manson.

  10. graciela. says:

    After riding the streets of LA for the last 4 years, I definitely miss the awesome bike friendliness of my alma mater, UC Davis. It’s very cool to read that the city maintains a platinum status in that regard.

    Personally, I think it’s bogus that USC has a laundry list of reasons why they can’t accommodate bikes. I’m glad there are other schools encouraging cycling and making real efforts to get students on bikes. Some of the examples you linked to are freaking state schools and we all know how hard it is for publicly funded/supported schools to fair in this economy. Yet, it’s the for-profit school that can’t figure out how to deal with bikes? It’s nuts.

    If student conduct on bikes is the problem, why throw the baby out with the bath water? Instead, educate students on the rules and enforce them. I remember the campus police at Davis would ride around on bikes pulling people over and handing out tickets for any number of bike violations. People behaved themselves and I rarely, if ever, saw collisions with other bikes or peds. Having a sidewalk for peds and a roadway for cyclists definitely helped.

    • Brett Griffith says:

      1) title of article is misleading – bikes banned from a central portion of campus that has more foot traffic than any portion of UCLA ever experiences, does not mean ‘bikes banned from ALL of usc… as article mentions halfway through
      2) usc has more students in a space about 1/5 size of ucla’s grounds – 75% of that foot traffic is in that one space it is banned (it is literally a sea of people)
      3) ucla/westwood has the most useless bike lane in all of los angeles – one that is like 1/4 miles long and connected to nothing whatsoever – whereas hoover and much of the surrounding major streets around USC do, in fact, offer fine bike lanes, as another person already pointed out
      4) westwood/brentwood’s property taxes and malls produce a shitload more revenue for the local area

      previous comment by graciela perhaps confuses ‘private’ with ‘for-profit’– universities are overwhelmingly filed as non-profit entities and even then being for-profit does nothing to detail or illustrate the presumption that is is milking profits as I believe previous comment is insinuating. Recall that the filing of the university, per-say, differs from the wide variety of academic departments, funds, hospitals and the like which do in fact file as non-profits.

  11. Amy says:

    I totally agree with Brett Griffith in the sense that everyone is exaggerating all of the articles’ points and needs to see what the bike ban really means for USC. All of the articles concerning the USC bike ban can’t comprehend why USC can’t implement an adequate bike policy just like all of these other California schools. However, the various UC campuses that were mentioned are much larger than USC, which is actually a very small and condensed campus. There are various bike traffic jams at USC during peak hours on some of the smaller walkways, especially the walkway in front of Annenberg School for Communication. Because of this, it makes sense that the main throughways of the USC campus should be used for bikes or should be divided into bike and pedestrian lanes in order to separate the pedestrians and bikes. There is also a huge aesthetics problem in regards to the bike racks and the fact that the throughways are lined with an endless line of bikes. Most students don’t even park their bikes in the racks and instead just leave them in between other bikes or wherever is convenient for them, since they are late for class. Consequently, the accumulation of bikes in front of the buildings is ridiculous and probably 2-3 bikes wide, which makes it harder for everyone to walk the campus. There are tons of issues facing the bikes and I believe that an adequate solution will be made soon and the bike ban will be lifted.

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