Following Wednesday’s Bike Summit and DPS Safety Fair, a group of LAPD officers on bikes happened to be predatorially perched on Jefferson Boulevard and McClintock Avenue, ready to cite law-despising cyclists.
While it might not be right for officers to prey on bicyclists, it’s also not right for bicyclists to completely ignore standards of etiquette and safety.
Hopefully, events like the Bike Summit, which introduced two potential plans for bike safety reform, will take care of these concerns.
We live in fast times, so we live in fast ways. We rush to class and speed to work. As heuristic humans, we tend to develop quicker and more convenient ways to do virtually anything. From putting all that connects us — personally, nationally, globally — on one smartphone to multitasking daily regimens, we constantly strive for efficiency. But we rarely think of safety.
Students ride against traffic, occasionally while having a phone conversation. These aren’t handless Bluetooth or headphone conversations. No, these are conversations that require one hand to be kept off the handlebars.
Perhaps I underestimate the cycling ability of the average Trojan. But after seeing several students nearly get plowed by cars, I can only conclude that these reckless routines need to change.
Last semester, I caught sight of a student riding her bicycle while talking on her phone. Her right hand held the phone, and her left hand held the handlebar. She made a left turn onto Jefferson Boulevard against traffic.
At the same time, a bus barreled around the corner in the opposite direction. Needless to say, she jumped off her bike, tossed her phone, tucked and rolled. She got up, bedraggled and disturbed. In an upset tone, she asked those around her, as they slapped grass and grime off her back and hair, if they had seen the license plate of the crazed busman.
After witnessing what could have been a horrific scene, I have no choice but to take the side of the ticketing officers, though I do not agree with their vulture techniques.
Using precious resources to have people stand on corners and hand out citations seems excessive. Citing bicyclists just teaches them to be more vigilant. We think we don’t need to change our habits; we just need to become wary of our surroundings.
Yet above all, with all this talk of a bike-friendly university, safety should be our top concern.
More instances of safety hazards include cyclists who tailgate pedestrians on narrow sidewalks, then becoming upset when unable to pass. Because of the lack of racks, students often park their bikes around building entrances, making it a nightmare to enter and exit.
Many different mediums exist to educate the habitual cyclist.
For instance, investments should be made to Facebook, Twitter, email, signs, fliers and education programs that allow students to quickly reference bicycle rules and regulations. Half of these mediums exist on smartphones. Why not take advantage of that?
For starters, the university should develop small pamphlets using summarized versions of the safety precautions from the student handbook. These pamphlets should also be accessible online.
At the end of the day, however, students need to take some responsibility. Anyone can quickly search online for local bicycle laws on bicyclela.org, which has an exhaustive list of bicycle laws and etiquette tips.
Most students ride bikes around campus — as anyone who has ever crossed the treacherous Trousdale Highway can tell you — so why aren’t more students motivated by this Bike Summit? If you visit the bikeusc.org website, you will notice that its Facebook page has only a whopping 11 “likes.”
Maybe cyclists don’t have time. Maybe their fast lives don’t allow for a half-day commitment to the Bike Summit.
Whatever your reason is for not making it, all cyclists should take the time to educate themselves. It might save your wallet. It might save your life.
Andrew Gomez is a senior majoring in philosophy politics and law. His column “Bête Noire” runs every other Thursday.