Despite recent student complaints about increased enforcement of bicycle rules by the Dept. of Public Safety and Los Angeles Police Department, DPS said the enforcement was intended to educate students about bike rules on campus and LAPD said enforcement was not targeted at students.
DPS Capt. David Carlisle said bikes have been impounded without attached fines because informing students of bicycle-related rules was the primary intention. SCampus says students can receive a $20 fine for each impoundment.
“We are trying to educate students about appropriate bike protocols, not punish,” Carlisle said in an email. “Bicyclists need to be considerate of others.”
Students have also expressed concern over intermittent enforcement of bike violations by LAPD.
According to LAPD Sgt. C. Mayberry, increases in LAPD presence is directly related to officer availability.
“We can only do what we have resources for at the time, and we cannot sit [on the streets] for 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Mayberry said. “If we’re out handling radio calls, we might not be on the street enforcing basic traffic violations.”
DPS had a station on campus Thursday for students to claim bikes that were confiscated because of violations of USC’s bicycle policy, including being illegally parked. Carlisle said approximately 320 bicycles were impounded.
Though students were not fined this time, Carlisle said students who deliberately disregard campus bicycle policy from now on will be fined.
“Sometimes fines are appropriate for students who intentionally ignore the rules such as when they block handicapped ramps,” Carlisle said. “During the last [Disability Task Force] meeting there were complaints of bikes blocking the handicapped ramp at Leavey, which is a chronic problem.”
SCampus says students who block building access, wheelchair ramps or handicapped ramps receive a $35 impound fee and those who lock their bikes to a ramp receive a $75 fee.
Rachel Bensimon, a freshman majoring in communication who had her bike confiscated by DPS, said the university could easily reduce the number of bikes that are in violation of USC bicycle policy by increasing the number of bike racks around campus.
“I had my bicycle confiscated by [DPS] after I parked it outside of EVK because all the spots on the bike rack near EVK were full,” Bensimon said. “If [the university] wants to see fewer bike violations in the future, [it] should build more bike racks, because [it] will help prevent bikes from being parked in places that obstruct key areas on campus.”
Other students said a strict enforcement of bicycle policy is critical for bicycle security, particularly in regards to the locking and parking student bikes.
“It’s great that DPS is taking the initiative [to impound bikes], so we know that they care about bicycle security,” said Kathryn Kinas, a freshman majoring in business. “Bicycle [theft] is a major crime on campus, so DPS should show students that they are addressing the issue seriously.”
Some students also said there are more important things LAPD can focus its limited resources on.
“I received a $300 ticket for not walking my bike 20 feet across an intersection, and there are people who speed [in their cars] and are ignored,” said Daniella Acuna, a senior majoring in international relations. “If DPS and LAPD want to make a big difference on and off campus, they should focus on reducing crime, since I’ve had four bikes stolen since I’ve been at USC.”
The California Department of Motor Vehicles considers bicyclists moving vehicles, so it is illegal to not stop for pedestrians, ride on the wrong side of the road, ride on the sidewalk without prioritizing the safety of others, wear headphones while riding or talk on a cell phone when riding.
The Undergraduate Student Government hosted a forum about bicycle usage on campus last year and intends to address the issue with its newest task force, “We are considerate, we are USC.” The task force will discuss the issue during its first meeting later this month.
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that it was illegal to ride bicycles on sidewalk. Under LAMC 56.15, it is only illegal to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk with a “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property,” according to bicyclela.org.