Bike traffic — a perennially thorny issue on USC’s campus — is likely to be problematic around the new Ronald Tutor Campus Center and could result in a bike-free campus, according to Department of Public Safety officials, though DPS has not yet decided to start patrolling the area.
Last year, DPS increased patrols around the university bookstore, placed signs forbidding students to ride bikes in certain areas and frequently stationed DPS officers in the area to enforce campus bike rules.
“I’ve seen on different campuses they have bike lanes,where people use their bikes on specific parts of the sidewalks,” said Daniel Wu, a senior majoring in urban studies. “But it’s hard to control because there are just too many bikes.”
There has been strong interest among students and faculty to reduce some of the issues the university has experienced with bike traffic, said DPS Chief Carey Drayton.
Last year, DPS created a traffic safety task force which aims to find solutions for the numerous bikes on campus that result in congested traffic flow.
One option that has been floating around, Drayton said, is for the university to go bike free.
“The idea hasn’t gone away, and there will still be discussion about it,” Drayton said. “The problem with bikes on campus is great … There are injuries that occur almost every other day.”
Short of creating a bike-free campus, the traffic safety task force believes it has found the solution: taking gradual steps to lessen congested areas on campus. Though the task force considers this a viable option, there will continue to be dialogue among students, faculty and the task force.
“I anticipate problems will occur and then [DPS] will respond and deal with real issues, as opposed to people questioning why DPS is bothering them when they are just going from point A to point B,” Drayton said.
Srinivasu Yerukonda, a graduate student studying mechanical engineering, said that a bike-free campus is too extreme.
“It is a big campus, so I think a bike is definitely necessary for students,” Yerukonda said.
Drayton has noticed the problem is not just the prevalence of bikes around campus, but it is also that students ride their bikes while heavily distracted.
“Students ride their bikes while listening to their iPods, holding a cup of coffee in their hands and, on top of all of that, they are holding 20 pounds of books on their backs,” Drayton said.
Though campus is crowded with bicyclists and pedestrians, some students find bikes are necessary to make the commute to campus easier.
“I’d be absolutely furious [if campus went bike free],” said Garett Figueroa, a junior majoring in business administration. “Most students, like me, live off campus and it would take much longer to get on campus if we had to walk.”
For students who live off campus, riding one’s bike across a crosswalk has become a point of contention between students and DPS officers. Drayton said DPS is concentrating on enforcing safe travel across crosswalks instead of giving citations to students for simply riding their bikes through crosswalks.
“Bike riders should be cognizant of the fact that although the city of Los Angeles is not enforcing no bikes in the crosswalk, it is enforcing safe travel,” Drayton said. “The mere fact that you’re [in the crosswalk] won’t get you cited, but if you travel in an unsafe manner you will [be cited].”