Letters to the Editor

‘No Bikes’ Policy Makes Sense

I feel that I have to respond to the letters in the Jan. 8, 2007 issue of the New U regarding the enforcement of the campus bicycle riding ban on the outer Ring Mall.

I have been a medical librarian at UC Irvine for over 25 years. Before moving to the Science Library, I worked in the now closed UCI Biomedical Library.

The bicycle riding ban has its origin in a pedestrian vs. bicycle accident that occurred over 15 years ago. Unfortunately, time has taken its toll on my memory so I don’t remember the specifics of names and exact dates.

The accident involved a student walking on the outside ring who was struck by another student on a bicycle traveling fast enough to knock the pedestrian to the ground. The victim struck his head and ultimately suffered brain damage. He had to leave school and faced years of rehabilitation. I believe that, at the time, there was some question as to whether or not he would ever regain full functioning.

This incident had a particular effect on me since the victim formerly had been a student worker in the Biomedical Library.

I agree with some of the points made in the letters protesting the ban. Bicycle riding is an efficient method of moving around campus.

However, as with many other things in life, the actions of a few have dictated a policy that affects us all. I myself have been grazed and bumped by bicyclists weaving in and out of the crowded Ring Mall walkway at high speed with no regard for anyone else. I have also seen many minor accidents and near misses. Fortunately, to my knowledge, none have had the extreme consequences of the one that prompted the initial ban.

One of the writers suggests a ‘5-20-10 rule: bicycles shall be restricted to a five mile per hour speed limit whenever passing within 20 feet of any pedestrian, and cyclists must dismount whenever surrounded by pedestrians within 10 feet.’

This would be ideal if we could count on all bicyclists obeying the rule. Given that few, if any, paid attention to the initial ban, or its current re-enforcement, I doubt that such a guideline would be accepted or followed.

If bicyclists want to make a reasonable argument for bicycle use on the outer ring, then some behavioral changes will have to occur.

The practice of bicyclists traveling at a high speed among a crowd of pedestrians has to stop. This is another tragic accident waiting to happen.

Bicyclists have to obey the basic rules of the road. In California, at least, bicycles are considered vehicles and are required to stop at all stop signs, obey direction of travel on roadways, etc. So many bicyclists on this campus (including staff and faculty I am sad to say), completely ignore the traffic laws, expecting, I suppose, that drivers will always be on the lookout for them. Again, accidents waiting to happen.

I have also been a bicyclist on this campus. Though I choose to walk to work now, for years I rode my bike. Believe it or not, it is possible to get within a couple of minutes walking distance to any point on campus by using a bicycle on either the inner ring, or the campus streets.

While it may be inconvenient for bicyclists not to be able to use the outer Ring Mall, it is certainly preferable to another accident like the one that began this all.

In conclusion, I do have a couple of observations that might make it easier and safer for bicyclists to get around on campus.

The inner ring road is divided into a pedestrian walkway and a bicycle lane. Yet I constantly see people using the bicycle lane as a walkway. This causes any bicyclist using the lane to veer out into the pedestrian side. Pedestrians also tend to use the bicycle-only pathway along Pereira Drive, again causing bicyclists to veer around them, causing congestion and setting the stage for possible accidents.

Pedestrians on this campus need to respect those areas set up specifically for bicycle riders.

Steve Clancy
Medical Librarian
UCI Science Library

‘No Bikes’ Policy Makes No Sense

I concur with previous letters to the editor expressing discontent over the enforcement of UC Irvine’s bike policy. Instead of rehashing the reasons why this is a bad idea, I want to make two interrelated points.

First, I spent my undergraduate years at San Francisco State. I believe this policy is actually on the books there. As is the case just about everywhere else in the free world, it is not enforced. If the administration there attempted to enforce it, students would simply blow it off. That would be the end of it. But San Francisco State is a politically active sort of campus. The university cannot simply impose its will on the students and watch them happily follow as seems to be the case here at UCI, where the student body comes off as rule-bound, if not downright passive.

And related to that note, I attempted to go through ‘the proper channels’ regarding this policy. I went to the Parking and Transportation Office in person. As instructed, I left them my name, phone number and e-mail address in order for someone to get back to me about the issue. Big surprise