For Trousdale’s sake, take biking seriously


Following Wednesday’s Bike Summit and DPS Safety Fair, a group of LAPD officers on bikes happened to be predatorially perched on Jefferson Boulevard and McClintock Avenue, ready to cite law-despising cyclists.

While it might not be right for officers to prey on bicyclists, it’s also not right for bicyclists to completely ignore standards of etiquette and safety.

Jovanna Tosello | Daily Trojan

Hopefully, events like the Bike Summit, which introduced two potential plans for bike safety reform, will take care of these concerns.

We live in fast times, so we live in fast ways. We rush to class and speed to work. As heuristic humans, we tend to develop quicker and more convenient ways to do virtually anything. From putting all that connects us — personally, nationally, globally — on one smartphone to multitasking daily regimens, we constantly strive for efficiency. But we rarely think of safety.

Students ride against traffic, occasionally while having a phone conversation. These aren’t handless Bluetooth or headphone conversations. No, these are conversations that require one hand to be kept off the handlebars.

Perhaps I underestimate the cycling ability of the average Trojan. But after seeing several students nearly get plowed by cars, I can only conclude that these reckless routines need to change.

Last semester, I caught sight of a student riding her bicycle while talking on her phone. Her right hand held the phone, and her left hand held the handlebar. She made a left turn onto Jefferson Boulevard against traffic.

At the same time, a bus barreled around the corner in the opposite direction. Needless to say, she jumped off her bike, tossed her phone, tucked and rolled. She got up, bedraggled and disturbed. In an upset tone, she asked those around her, as they slapped grass and grime off her back and hair, if they had seen the license plate of the crazed busman.

After witnessing what could have been a horrific scene, I have no choice but to take the side of the ticketing officers, though I do not agree with their vulture techniques.

Using precious resources to have people stand on corners and hand out citations seems excessive. Citing bicyclists just teaches them to be more vigilant. We think we don’t need to change our habits; we just need to become wary of our surroundings.

Yet above all, with all this talk of a bike-friendly university, safety should be our top concern.

More instances of safety hazards include cyclists who tailgate pedestrians on narrow sidewalks, then becoming upset when unable to pass. Because of the lack of racks, students often park their bikes around building entrances, making it a nightmare to enter and exit.

Many different mediums exist to educate the habitual cyclist.

For instance, investments should be made to Facebook, Twitter, email, signs, fliers and education programs that allow students to quickly reference bicycle rules and regulations. Half of these mediums exist on smartphones. Why not take advantage of that?

For starters, the university should develop small pamphlets using summarized versions of the safety precautions from the student handbook. These pamphlets should also be accessible online.

At the end of the day, however, students need to take some responsibility. Anyone can quickly search online for local bicycle laws on bicyclela.org, which has an exhaustive list of bicycle laws and etiquette tips.

Most students ride bikes around campus — as anyone who has ever crossed the treacherous Trousdale Highway can tell you — so why aren’t more students motivated by this Bike Summit? If you visit the bikeusc.org website, you will notice that its Facebook page has only a whopping 11 “likes.”

Maybe cyclists don’t have time. Maybe their fast lives don’t allow for a half-day commitment to the Bike Summit.

Whatever your reason is for not making it, all cyclists should take the time to educate themselves. It might save your wallet. It might save your life.

 

Andrew Gomez is a senior majoring in philosophy politics and law. His column “Bête Noire” runs every other Thursday. 


  • We love your ideas for the university to help students learn more about bike safety. In fact, we produced a map of current bike dismount zones with Bike Safety Tips and graphics for the summit, and would like to find campus groups willing to disseminate it widely. We’ll also post it online at http://www.bikeusc.org.

    One of the interesting findings in our study is that many students do not know much about rules of the road for bikes, nor do they know urban cycling tips that can help them negotiate the congested streets and pathways on and around campus. Yesterday we took a group of 25 USC graduate student for a quick “bike safety tour” of campus. Seeing 25 cyclists with helmets obeying all stop signs and restrictions made most people stop and stare in disbelief. We’d like to see a strong “Bike Ed” program implemented on campus so more students can learn how to bike safely and considerately.

  • Great ideas! We’re definitely interested in developing a robust educational program that gives students the foundational knowledge and skills to be safe and confident cyclists. Rather than ‘gotcha’ enforcement, we would like to see a more targeted crackdown on the most dangerous behavior. There may be opportunity to integrate an educational component into enforcement, such as requiring scofflaw cyclists to take a bike safety course rather than pay a fine.

    We’d love to hear more from the Trojan community! You can connect at http://www.bikeusc.org or email us directly at info@bikeusc.org.

  • Jack

    why yes, I ride a bike, like any sensible person who doesn’t want to spend half an hour getting anywhere. your point being?

    • George

      That you’re a douche.

  • Tom

    Jack ^ is definitely a bike rider.

  • Jack

    sounds like you have no friends. LAPD has better things to do than cite students for frivolous bike violations, like busting the actual criminals in the neighborhood and keeping us safe. it’s a shame the officers have resorted to handing out absurd tickets to collect donut money.

    • Bobby

      you must be a bike rider.