USC’s flexible approach to bikes progressive

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.

Hye You | Daily Trojan


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. 

4 replies
  1. Stanford Alumni in LA
    Stanford Alumni in LA says:

    Only at USC would “too many bikes” be considered a “problem”. In car dominated Los Angeles, it only makes sense that your institution would try and limit the number the of students actively trying to get to class on time, while engaging in semi-athletic behavior.

    Why not take a cue from Stanford, which I know may be hard, and actually promote bike use by installing bike racks out side buildings and designating areas where bikes and pedestrians and interact safely??

    Better yet, why not read the editorial below from another ‘Daily’ newspaper. You just may learn something….

  2. DavidM
    DavidM says:

    You claim this is a “clear thinking” and “progressive” approach, while failing to see or at least acknowledge a huge assumption. You state the the “problem” is the “number of bikes on campus”. While it may be a problem that bikes and pedestrians are not currenlty mixing well (though I wonder if there is anything real to back that up), you fail to consider that this could indicate a problem beyond the number or behavior or cyclists.

    If large numbers of students are riding bikes on campus, there is a reason. It is a safe, quick, convenient, and inexpensive way for students to navigate a large campus and larger neighborhood. By discouraging students, faculty, and staff from cycling, you are instead encouraging them to use cars which have a large number of space and safety problems, shuttle services which are not convenient or adequate, or walk which is not often quick enough to navigate this large area.

    When bike and pedestrian interactions are not going well, this is usually an indication of poorly designed roadways and paths rather than a problem with the number or “culture” of cyclists. Simple and cheap fixes could improve how cyclists navigate the campus and neighborhood. Identify key routes and mark them for bikes. Integrate on campus bike routes with neighborhood bike and transit infrastructure. Limit areas banned to bikes to only those small regions where distances are short and pedestrian presence is especially heavy.

    Especially with the opening of the Expo Metro line, the number of USC students and staff using bikes to get to, from, and around campus is only going to increase. This should be encouraged, not portrayed as a “problem”.

  3. Terry Reynolds
    Terry Reynolds says:

    USC simply needs paved bike paths throughout campus similar to University of California at Irvine. If you give bicycles a proper place to ride, most will use it.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] USC Plans on Addressing Its “Bike Problem” of Too Many Students Riding Bikes (Daily Trojan) […]

Comments are closed.