The Department of Public Safety is beginning to sound like a broken record.
Last week, the Daily Trojan reported that DPS officials plan to keep a weathered eye on the traffic problem areas near campus — mainly the McClintock Avenue and 34th Street intersection near Gate 5 — in order to reduce congestion and increase pedestrian safety.
Repeated pledges to control bicycle traffic last semester, however, yielded few results; many areas of campus still resemble poorly played games of Frogger. DPS has gone through many straits to clear up traffic on and near campus, including partnering with LAPD to issue tickets to rogue cyclists, impounding stray bikes and posting officers to monitor key intersections.
The fact remains that no matter how many times the university pledges to ramp up bike safety, campus is left in much the same condition as before — in need of sweeping traffic reform.
Though some have argued that the crux of campus congestion is motor vehicle traffic, cars and trucks are the exception on a campus largely closed off to thru traffic. For better or for worse, USC is a cyclist’s campus. A study conducted by the Student Health Center last spring found that there are anywhere between 10,000 and 15,000 bicycles on campus at any point during the day, a number that will only increase as Los Angeles makes the push to become a more cyclist-friendly city. Plans to install a bicycle lane on Adams Boulevard highlight the city’s sway towards spokes and will only add to the number of bikes in the North University Park area.
Ultimately, most of the campus roadblocks are caused by student traffic, whether it be bike, skateboard, foot or the brave few who made it out of the ’80s in roller blades. DPS’s policies to curb the crowds have been largely ineffective, as problem areas have been dealt with superficially rather than at the source.
Posting an officer to the Gate 5 intersection is merely a Band-Aid on an issue that deserves more attention, just as bringing in LAPD officers sporadically last semester to issue tickets to cyclists was a quick (and faulty) fix. DPS has made threats to impound stray bikes and later admitted it didn’t have the storage facilities to back up these promises.
According to SCampus, bicyclists have free reign in traveling around campus, save for areas specifically restricted by signage and intersections. Rather than dealing with campus congestion on a case-to-case basis, the university needs to revisit its bike policy and decide whether the campus can support the growing number of wheels.
If USC is truly going to be a bike-accessible campus, then the university must make vast changes to accommodate its cyclist population — the first of which are installing more racks and exploring the idea of bike lanes on the main streets.
On the other hand, if bike lanes prove to be too costly and limited by the amount of space available, then USC needs to take a hard-line on its bike policy.
It’s time to address the cycling elephant in the room. On-campus traffic has become a formidable problem, and DPS is out of quick fixes. USC needs to spin the wheel.
Lucy Mueller is a junior majoring in cinema-television production.