The walk to class every day is surprisingly tricky. Anyone who has walked on campus knows to be aware of the multitude of wheeled vehicles that weave precariously among pedestrians in a frenzied mesh of near-collisions and last-gasp rushes for the start of class.
USC has had a longstanding bike problem, and the few changes done to try to fix it have not really worked. USC’s new initiative called “We are Considerate. We are USC.” sets out to tackle this issue in a new and tactical way.
USC will partner with a consulting firm to count bicycles and take aerial shots in an attempt to record and assess the behavior of bike traffic on campus while employing new strategies to ultimately change the bike culture on campus.
This kind of clear-thinking approach signals one important thing: USC has identified a problem directly affecting students and is attacking it head-on in a productive way.
Attempts to curb heavy bike traffic have included the installation of bike-free pedestrian safety zones, in addition to tighter restrictions on bike registration and parking.
These attempts did not meet the full expectations of students as the policies proved difficult to enforce and failed to address the overall issue directly. Banning bikes in the central areas on campus seems to be attacking the problem at its core.
But it seems to cause heavier bike traffic in the areas outside the zones, and to increase possibility of accidents whenever someone tries to ride through these zones — either forgetting or ignoring the rule.
These policies seem to be an indirect way of addressing the real problem: the number of bikes on campus.
Banning bikes through main junctures of foot traffic could never be enforced fully, and the university rightfully backed away from the hard-line policy.
By hiring an outside consultant, USC shows it is willing to accept help in a problem that has become clear the university is not sure how to handle.
The move inspires confidence in the leadership abilities of our current administrators and student government.
Instead of stubbornly maintaining its previous decisions, the university is showing it will continue to search for solutions until an efficient solution emerges.
By gathering data, the consulting firm will have the ability to form a good plan of attack.
By taking aerial photos from around the school and collecting bicycle traffic totals, the firm helps the university form an accurate model of bicycle traffic during the day. They will also apply lessons learned from other traffic situations that have been managed.
In a city like Los Angeles, which continues to struggle with a traffic problem, it seems fitting that a bicycle problem would emerge in the same vein.
Obviously, the jury is still waiting to see what the consultants will come up with. But the fact that USC accepted help in such an innovative way shows that the university is truly committed to solving the problems. This bodes well for the resolution of the bike problem and other dilemmas we might choose to tackle in the future, as opposed to the administration merely taking the problem upon itself.
Daniel Grzywacz is a sophomore majoring in cinematic arts-critical studies. His column “Thoughts From the Quad” runs Wednesdays.