Lanes won’t solve USC’s bike problem

Students and administrators have been racking their brains for a solution to the bicycle congestion on campus.

But a new bike policy isn’t going to change reality: There are simply too many bikes at USC.

Irene Wang | Daily Trojan

The concept of reducing bike traffic by reducing the actual number of bikes has been mysteriously absent from the congestion conversation. Nevertheless, it is a strategy with tremendous potential for success. Instead of trying to make our dense campus bike-friendly, USC should think more realistically and advocate alternative forms of transportation. Students who currently bike should seriously think about making the switch.

Last week, the Office of Student Affairs and the USC Bicycle Master Plan consultant team outlined several proposed solutions to the congestion problem, including designated bike lanes on campus.

Bike lanes will accomplish one of the university’s major goals regarding bikes, which is safety.

Unfortunately, this solution won’t make biking any more convenient. Bike lanes would not reduce congestion so much as redirect it. While non-bikers would enjoy open expanses of path and roadway, bikers would be confined to specific areas on campus.

Bikes would no longer be able to zip around someone who happens to be peddling as fast as they can walk. They would no longer be able to take favorite shortcuts or make a quick U-turn when they decide to stop for a bite at Seeds Marketplace at the last minute.

Many other bike-related inconveniences would be significantly reduced if fewer people chose to bike in the first place. The most obvious inconvenience is the severe shortage of places to park a bike, let alone to lock it. The Bicycle Master Plan does include plans to add more storage space for bikes, but our tight urban campus only has room for so much.

The lack of adequate storage for bicycles contributes to the other big problem for bike owners: theft. Equally irritating is when you can’t tell if your bike has been stolen because it’s just as likely that it has been consumed by the labyrinth of bikes outside Leavey Library.

Longboarders and scooter riders experience none of these issues. They enjoy the ability to move as fast as bikes — at least on campus — without having to worry about finding a place to park when they reach their destination. They have more maneuverability, allowing for last-minute shortcuts, quick stops and, of course, collision prevention.

People who ride longboards also tend to be more spatially aware, as that awareness is an integral part of riding them. A campus with more longboarders would automatically become a campus with more conscientious commuters.

Bike reform at USC is certainly necessary. Many of the proposed programs sound fantastic. Still, the programs can only do so much for a problem that really comes down to one factor: an excess of bikes.


Francesca Bessey is a freshman majoring in narrative studies. 

6 replies
  1. David
    David says:

    How about increasing the amount of time between classes from 10 minutes to 20? Perhaps with more time allotted students wouldn’t have to race from one end of campus to another. Just a thought.

  2. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Skateboarders and longboarders are the causes of most accidents I have personally witnessed. They expect everyone to move around them, and if they get too close to someone they just hop off, sending the board flying into people/bikes/etc, which is a catalyst for more accidents. Most skateboarders I have seen attempt to swerve too close to pedestrians and bikers. I don’t think that a campus with more skateboards and longboards would be safe at all.

  3. Cathy
    Cathy says:

    I commute by bike to USC every day. I will welcome the bike lanes and some order to the biking on campus. Speeding, making sudden U-turns, riding on the wrong side of the road just make the situation more chaotic. I don’t ride when I am on campus now for that reason. And as a pedestrian, I will welcome the chance to walk down Child’s Way without getting hit by speeding bikes for a change.

  4. Todd
    Todd says:

    Just limit bikes to main roads or walkways and restrict all other pathways to walking or other noted above. People go to USC because the campus is convenient to the living situation. If bikes are not allowed people will find it much more difficult to get to campus, to class on time!, and might even start DRIVING which would probably crush this author’s hopes and dreams…

  5. Ras
    Ras says:

    The author’s solution to the bicycle congestion on campus is to reduce the number of bikes. Wow – brilliant. I would like this “solution” to be applied to car congestion in LA… I am not saying USC students are naive but this article has all the makings of an author thinking problems are solved when you wish the bad stuff away. Other then converting current bicyclists into longboarders, is there a real proposal here in eliminating bikes?

  6. Anon
    Anon says:

    “People who ride longboards also tend to be more spatially aware, as that awareness is an integral part of riding them.”

    What on earth does this mean? This is honestly some of the worst journalism I’ve ever seen. Apparently you can be blind to ride a bike…

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