Yesterday, I found myself on the University of Southern California campus for the first time.
While crosstown rival UCLA has earned honors as a bronze-level Bike-Friendly University (pdf) — which may have something to do with their dramatic decrease in vehicular traffic — USC has struggled with the issue of bikes on campus.
But don’t call it a problem, please.
Cars on and around campus are a problem. Getting students onto campus from outlying areas is a problem.
Bikes are a big part of the solution, by allowing students to leave their cars at home and still have the independent mobility they need to get to class on time. As well as to their jobs and other sites throughout the city.
In fact, a full 80% of USC students consider themselves cyclists. Which has reportedly led to the usual, seemingly inevitable conflicts as riders and pedestrians vie for space on a campus that has long considered bikes an afterthought.
If they thought about them at all, that is.
The good news is, the university is working on a bike plan as we speak, with the next workshop scheduled for April 19th. The bad news, I’m told the plan calls for building bike garages on the four corners of the university, followed by banning bikes from the campus itself.
So if you’re running late for class, you’d better plan on running.
Now there’s an intelligent solution for you.
Instead of designing well thought-out bikeways into the fabric of the campus, they may banish bikes while continuing to invite cars into a massive parking garage in the heart of the university. How about building parking garages on the edges of campus, and letting drivers walk for a change?
Of course, this is all third-hand information, at best. Maybe we should plan on attending that workshop on the 19th and find out for ourselves what’s really going there.
In the meantime, a simple walk around campus showed an abundance of bikes everywhere. As well as a decided lack of bike racks.
And many of those were the old-fashioned, minimally secure and often damaging wheel-bender type — all of which were completely full.
As a result, there were hundreds, if not thousands, of bikes lying unsecured on sidewalks or leaning up against buildings and trees.
Many of those were unlocked; most that weren’t just had a U-lock attached to the front wheel, making them easy to pick up and walk off with. Even those that were locked to a rack were usually secured by the front wheel only.
Had I wanted to steal a bike — or a hundred bikes — I could have had my pick.
And then our guide mentioned in passing that bike theft was the biggest crime problem at USC.
Funny, I could have told her that.
While UCLA is far from perfect, they’ve made a point of building secure bike parking throughout the university, from secure U-racks and bike corrals to reservable bike lockers – something USC could accomplish before the end of this semester if they really wanted to do something about the theft problem.
While the lack of secure parking is a real problem, the students themselves need to learn to lock their bikes securely.
Your lock should at least secure your rear wheel and the rear triangle of the frame; ideally, it should secure the front wheel, as well. Especially if you have quick release wheels.
My approach is to remove my front wheel and secure it, as well as the rear wheel and frame to the rack with a sturdy U-lock.
Then again, it’s not just cyclists who seem to have issue with parking.
It looks like I may have been taken in.
On Monday, I published a guest post by a writer named Brooke Kerwin.
It has all the hallmarks of a particularly devious SEO marketing campaign. And I apparently fell for it, along with a number of other people.
I won’t include a link to that site here, because I don’t believe in rewarding such illicit attempts to use this site to market a product or website. But you can find it yourself at distracted driving help dot com.
I’ll leave the post up, since it has some useful information.
But I’ve removed the links she included, two of which just linked back to my site, anyway.