Bike safety regulation goes in circles

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.

11 replies
  1. Cathy
    Cathy says:

    Riding bikes to campus and riding bikes on campus are two separate issues. The alternative to riding a bike on campus is to walk, also an environmentally friendly form of transportation. What I would like to see is designated areas for pedestrians and for bikes. Just today, I walked over to the Lot for lunch. There was a large group of elementary school students outside, blocking the sidewalk. I went around, but a woman on a bike just rode right through them. Luckily, no one was hurt. It would protect the environment just as much if this woman had gotten off her bike and walked it. I take public transportation as often as possible and plan to use the new Exposition line. You could ban cars in a 10 mile radius around campus and I would be overjoyed. I would ride my bike everyday, but I wouldn’t ride it on the sidewalks where there is a heavy concentration of pedestrians.

  2. ubrayj02
    ubrayj02 says:

    I find it sad that the “bike problem” means attacking a mode of transportation which is saving the campus and society at large untold sums of money. If all those now riding to class drove, it would be Carmageddon. There is way, way, too much of the USC campus and its surrounding road network (LA City property under the direct control of the LADOT) that totally turned over to the most expensive, dangerous, and polluting form of transportation one can use – the private automobile.

    Bike facilities are DIRT CHEAP – paint, metal poles … what is so costly here? The planning documents will cost more than the “infrastructure” required to support cyclists in and around campus.

    Training USC’s cyclists in proper cycling technique, CA law, etc. should become part of orientation for freshmen. The League of American Bicyclists teaches a course in the basics of riding a bike like a grown up, as does C.I.C.L.E. (a bike organization located in North East L.A.).

    As the city’s largest (or one of the largest) employers, this isn’t just about students. Too many staff and faculty drive to campus as it is – clogging the roads, speeding away from the area once their day is over. The campus could do a lot to help local commerce by encouraging more people to bike, walk, or take transit to campus. USC’s public policy team should be all over the task of traffic calming, car lane width reduction of removal, bus-only lanes, protected bikeways, etc. These benefit local residents as well!

    • Christopher Miranda
      Christopher Miranda says:

      Agreed. Bike safety should be a part of freshman orientation. As well as skateboard safety. Imagine if all these bicyclists switched to skateboards! Many would still bike against traffic. Many would still blow through stop signs.

      Other issues which might contribute the the problem at McClintock-Jefferson: Too many traffic signs. No bike lane coming out of USC.

      Also, have USC, DPS and LAPD given up on getting students to walk bikes during the Walk Signal? Seems that way. I see DPS riding their chariots and bicycles through the intersection all the time, during the Walk signal.

  3. Glenn A. Youngman
    Glenn A. Youngman says:

    The LGBTCA is going to hold an anti-bike rally in the coming week to protest these dangerous bicyclists. Bicycles are bad for the environment because of the pollutants created from the manufacture and disposal of said bicycles.

    We should all wear woven hemp sandals and walk everywhere like Jesus did!!!!!

    The riders of these bikes at USC and everywhere else are dangerous, careless and think that basic common decency and laws are above them. Let’s stop them before they kill anyone else, imprison any more innocent motorists or damage any more cars.

    We need to ban bicycles on USC’s campus.

    • Christopher Miranda
      Christopher Miranda says:

      “The riders of these bikes at USC and everywhere else are dangerous, careless and think that basic common decency and laws are above them.”
      — I believe that most bicyclists aren’t dangerous. They might be uninformed or misguided, but that doesn’t mean that they are careless or that they believe that decency and laws don’t need to be observed.

      Your other statements are bombastic and over the top.

      “We need to ban bicycles on USC’s campus.”

      No, we don’t. We can find a better solution.

  4. Cathy
    Cathy says:

    I love to bike and would do a lot more of it if it were safer. It is good for the environment, etc. But the situation on campus is out of hand. I walk across campus like a hunted animal.

    Many campus have banned bikes. I really don’t want to see that happen, but I also don’t want to get injured or killed. I have posted some videos on Facebook under the USC group, “Motorists (and non-motorists) against bicycle nazism” Unfortunate name. You really can’t blame the students when the University has not made plans or provisions for proper traffic and parking. However, bicyclists do not wear helmets, do not travel on the right side of the road, look at their phones, fail to yield to pedestrians and seem to have no clue. How about an education program? How about a few signs reminding people of the law?

    • Christopher Miranda
      Christopher Miranda says:

      The law doesn’t require bicyclists to wear helmets, but I agree that they should travel on the correct (right) side of the road. That goes for anyone travelling on the road, including skateboarders and rollerbladers.

      When I’m around campus and see bicyclists texting or talking on the phone while riding, I get the feeling that either they don’t take safety seriously or they haven’t learned that this is illegal.

  5. stacie chaiken
    stacie chaiken says:


    I teach in the McClintock Building and in a classroom at the University Village, and that intersection of McClintock is treacherous, both for pedestrians and bike riders, who can be just as vulnerable in the event of an accident. Not to mention the rage that builds up in all of us after three-times-daily near misses.

    How about citizens’ arrests, documented by photos on our phones? $500 fines! That would be fun.

    And then we can work on a reasonable new plan, which includes bike paths, separate from walkers.

  6. nicolo macellari
    nicolo macellari says:

    I really believe that a possible solution to the bike problem could be bike sharing on campus!
    I have designed a system called CICLO and I presented the project in different occasions.
    Now the file, with business plan and all the details is on the USC sustainability website, you can take a look at it here!
    I hope that USC will go for it, because USC campus is a perfect place to start a bike sharing program that could be an example for LA, and it would also integrate perfectly with the subway stops we’ll have within the year!
    Let me know what you think!


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