Bike lanes lead to traffic woes, students say

Bikes are a popular method among students for getting around campus, but issues arise when they mix with other forms of traffic.

Designated bike lanes, which were implemented along the often-crowded Trousdale Parkway last semester, were put in place to ease the traffic flow. However, students have complained that the lanes have failed to live up to their promise.

Wrong way · Prior to the bike lanes, a Dept. of Public Safety survey found nearly 25 percent of undergraduates were involved in accidents. — Austin Vogel | Daily Trojan

Wrong way · Prior to the bike lanes, a Dept. of Public Safety survey found nearly 25 percent of undergraduates were involved in accidents. — Austin Vogel | Daily Trojan

In a survey conducted prior to the lanes’ installment, nearly 25 percent of USC’s undergraduates said they had been involved in a collision within the past year. Dept. of Public Safety Captain David Carlisle said that it is unclear whether the lanes have prevented further collisions since most incidents go unreported.

Some students, such as Jeremy Chen, an undeclared freshman, expressed reservations about the lanes’ effectiveness.

“[The lanes] help, but not to a large degree,” Chen said. “There are times when … [Trousdale] still seems super congested.”

Vice President of Student Affairs Michael L. Jackson said the boundaries created by the lanes were meant to show students where to ride or bike safely.

“When I walked in the center of campus before, I felt vulnerable,” Jackson said. “But the lanes have helped me feel safer.”

Ekua Armah, a sophomore majoring in psychology, said though the lanes make it clear which way to go, the issue arises when pedestrians cut across the bike path and interrupt the flow of traffic.

“It’s annoying,” Armah said. “People wander aimlessly into the lanes and just aren’t paying attention to their surroundings.”

Some students complained about the inconvenience of dismounting bikes during peak traffic hours, as well as the difficulty of entering and exiting the only designated bike lane on campus.

“Since the lanes are only on Trousdale, it is really hard during rush hours to exit the lanes and make your way through all the people to get to other parts of campus,” Armah said.

USC hired Kendall Planning and Design  last October to formulate a comprehensive plan to make the campus friendlier to bikers and pedestrians alike. Principal Architect Alison Kendall said there is significant room for improvement.

“The bike lanes are only the beginning,” Kendall said.

Kendall said she, along with a consulting team, came up with hundreds of recommendations for improvement.

Though some ideas would work on the issue in the long term, Kendall emphasized that there are still more immediate solutions, like educational programs.

Kendall said passing out plans that show bike routes and give a “basic overview of the rules of the road in L.A.” would allow bikers to familiarize themselves with the lanes and learn how to safely travel around campus and the city.

Though there are currently no plans to expand the lanes or alter existing policies, Kendall will be speaking on a panel with community service officer Charles May, as a part of the “Campus Conversations” speaker series in March.

“This is not something you solve all at once,” Kendall said. “There’s plenty of potential for improvement.”

During the first several weeks of the fall semester, DPS officers were stationed along the lanes to enforce the lane policy.

“The lanes have been very effective when officers are there on Trousdale and 34th,” Carlisle said. “It’s been easier since people know where to go and there seem to be less collisions within the lanes.”

The stationing of officers to enforce the policy is only temporary; however, Carlisle said soon officers will only be there when staffing allows it.

“[I] hope the positive behaviors will continue, as it is in the best interest of everyone,” Carlisle said.

Jackson observed that pedestrians only followed protocol when DPS officers were present last semester.

“Some people were just rude and inconsiderate and didn’t pay any attention to [the lanes],” Jackson said of the unguarded lanes.

USC Bookstore employee Rachel Diggs is less sure of the lanes’ future effectiveness.

“People are still going to take their own path, regardless of the rules,” Diggs said.

Christina Nour, a freshman majoring in civil engineering said,  the lanes can cause more harm than good if not used appropriately.

“The lanes can help if people use them the way they are meant to be used,” Nour said. “But when bikers don’t ride in the bike lanes and pedestrians don’t walk in the designated walkways, then there’s chaos.”

11 replies
  1. Kenny
    Kenny says:

    I was very skeptical about the sharrows when they were installed, but they’ve appeared to work much better than I expected. Still, to be really effective, it should have been done with the strategy that was proposed by one of the teams making suggestions – if the bike strips were asphalt while the pedestrian parts were textured cobblestones, then they would both be much more visible, and naturally encourage bikes to stay on the smooth pavement.

  2. Jennifer A. Gill
    Jennifer A. Gill says:

    When I ride my bicycle on these “orange” sharrows, I find their position to be counter intuitive…I have to ride on the left going from Adams to Expo Blvd (instead of the right). Unfortunately, if there are a lot of people walking on the sharrows, one doesn’t know they are even there. Since Trousdale is the only designated area for bicyclst…I would recommend that there are bike lanes and perhaps an orange color painted on the surface of the corridor, so that pedestrians and bicyclsts can see where they should be located.

    • Swann
      Swann says:

      I completely disagree — though it does take a little getting used to in terms of riding on the left (though its only the left portion of the right half of the roadway, so its not THAT hard), I really appreciate how simple and aesthetically pleasing the cardinal and gold sharrows on the ground are. When coupled with the silver blockades every few yards, I think that’s all you really need to show people where to go. Plus, as new generations of Trojans come in, the rules of the road become second nature. I’ll be the first to say as an older student, I forget sometimes about the lanes, but every Freshman I know is quick to follow them because that’s all they know. With time, the lanes will work out!

  3. Fred
    Fred says:

    We should be thankful that USC, in this instance, is not trying to duplicate the stupidity of its crosstown rival.
    Bicycles are a natural in a campus setting, always have been, and always will be.

    If pedestrians need helmets, radar, and training in how to walk safely, i.e. not wearing headphones or texting or chatting, so be it.

    While cyclists can use a refresher course in politeness, and we really need to school them on how not to get killed on the street – no zigzagging, no iphones, no wrong-way riding, no running stop signs, on campus, in bike lanes, they are not the problem.

  4. Michael Wang
    Michael Wang says:

    If you’re riding a bike, ride in the bike lane. If you’re not riding a bike, walk in the pedestrian lane. Simple!

  5. zach
    zach says:

    Accomodating bikes is important. They are a cost effective, environmentally friendly, efficient form of transport. Building bike infrastructure is extremely cheap in comparison to car infrastructure.

    Support the cycling movement in the USA

  6. William Buttrey
    William Buttrey says:

    Sometimes it takes awhile to modify behaviors…but I am optimistic that there will be improvement. Convenience and safety can both be achieved.

Comments are closed.