As students flocked to the University Park Campus for the first day of classes Monday, new, portable bike lanes flanking Trousdale Parkway prompted varied reactions from students.
Part of a joint project by USC Student Affairs and Undergraduate Student Government, the bike lanes are intended to enable students to bike up and down Trousdale without interfering with pedestrian traffic.
An email sent to students by Student Affairs mentions that the new bike lanes are the result of the “We are Considerate. We Are USC.” campaign started in 2011.
“The goal is to make the campus more hospitable to bikers and to benefit the students on campus,” said Michael Jackson, vice president of student affairs.
If these lanes prove successful, USC hopes to expand the bike lanes to thoroughfares, such as Childs and Watt ways.
“Student Affairs is excited about the new bike lanes and hopes this new experiment will be the first step in a broader solution to help keep USC a bicycle and pedestrian friendly campus,” said Tom Studdert, director at USC Orientation Programs. “This goes a long way in helping us maintain safety for all Trojans, particularly in the center of campus.”
USG President Mikey Geragos said USG became interested in bike lanes because of campus safety.
“The issue of bike safety on campus came to my attention this summer,” Geragos said. “While the bike lanes are by no means the only solution to this issue on campus, we hope that they work.”
For bikers around the university, these bike lanes provide a much-needed departure from Trousdale before its makeover this summer.
“Biking on Trousdale, especially when school starts, is really tough and kind of crazy,” Adrian Pedroza, a sophomore majoring in psychology. “I’ve even seen head-on collisions.”
A survey conducted by bikeusc.org, a campus cycling information group, gave a factual basis for the new bike lanes. The study reported that nearly 25 percent of USC’s undergraduate student body has had a collision with a bike in the past year.
The same survey also showed 20 percent of undergraduate students had no regular cycling experience prior to biking on campus, suggesting pedestrian unfamiliarity with bicycles, coupled with rider inexperience, often results in the frequent collisions on campus.
Last week, Dept. of Public Safety officers placed large portable metal dividers on Trousdale and urged pedestrians to stay out of bike lanes.
Several days after first sightings of the dividers, construction crews painted permanent bike icons on the sides of Trousdale. These sharrows, or shared-lane markings, coupled with the metal dividers, are intended to decrease the risk factor in having bicyclists and pedestrians share walkways.
In the past, campus cyclists like Pedroza found themselves in the way of pedestrians; they were also forbidden to ride on Trousdale during peak hours. Though Student Affairs said the peak hours rule and other safety precautions are still in effect, many confused travelers have needed DPS officers to inform about the new lanes and how to use them.
“It might take a little while for people to get used to using the bike lanes, but overall, it should help promote pedestrian safety,” said Selena Ng, a freshman majoring in business administration.
Though the project is in its preliminary stages of development, — evident by the placement of the bike lanes on only one campus walkway — Student Affairs hopes that the lanes will foster a more orderly and safer environment for pedestrians and cyclists.
Nicole Poritzky, an undeclared freshman, said the lanes made walking to class during peak hours easier for pedestrians.
“It’s a good idea and makes for safer travelling,” Poritzky said. “Now that I see how busy [Trousdale] can be at rush hour, I’m really glad there’s a system in place.”
Not all, however, are so optimistic. Matthew Lopez, a sophomore majoring in history, likes the lanes but thinks they could be marked better.
“I’m an aimless walker, so I like that it keeps me from wandering into bikers’ paths,” Lopez said. “I do think that the lane [boundaries] could be more clear, because a lot of people seemed confused.”