Campus Bike Policy Reinforced
The UCI administration in the spring of 2007, in coordination with the UCI Police Department and the office of Parking and Transportation Services, announced a far-reaching revamp of the on-campus biking and transportation policies. The act was marked by skepticism among the student body as the rules limit areas of the campus where students are allowed to ride bikes, skateboards and other types of low-cost, eco-friendly transportation vehicles and devices.
According to Paul Henisey, UCI chief of police, although many UCI students perceive transportation policies to be new, they have actually been around for decades.
“Our primary concern is to prevent students from operating their bicycles in an unsafe manner,” Henisey said. “In the past year since revamping the policy, we have received fewer bicycle-related complaints from on-campus offices and have seen fewer accidents as well.”
While students have alleged the use of radar guns by UCIPD to issue speeding tickets, Henisey challenged these rumors and said that the UCIPD does not enforce the speed limit of bicyclists.
“We do not specifically enforce eight miles per hour [as a speed limit],” Henisey said.
Regarding golf carts, which are another hot transportation topic on campus, Henisey confirmed that UCIPD makes sure drivers adhere to the relevant transportation laws.
“[UCIPD takes] action against golf carts and has issued citations for certain drivers in the past. There are defined regulations for golf cart use on campus, which limits their use to certain times of the day and certain areas of campus,” Henisey said.
The revamped transportation policies focus mostly on rules and regulations that pertain to bicyclists on campus. Riding bikes and skate devices remains banned from the hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. anywhere on Ring Mall, except for a few through-ways where bicyclists are allowed to cross Ring Mall on their way to Aldrich Park. All first-time infractions receive a warning after which students must complete a mandatory online safety quiz. Students who violate this policy multiple times receive a fine for each time the rule is broken.
There is also a recently formed Bicycle Advisory group that constantly reviews bike policies in an effort to avoid liability for hazardous conditions, and brainstorms ways to improve UCI’s bike flow and campus access. The Group is managed by both UCIPD as well as the Office of Parking and Transportation Services. The group further received input from student representatives and faculty that are part of the advisory board.
Henisey went on to state that the Bicycle Advisory Group is working to make the campus open to bicyclists.
“We are seeking to be a bike-friendly campus. However, UCI’s layout is much different than other campuses, such as UCSB or UC Davis, which have very flat terrains and distinct bikeways,” Henisey said. “We would like to build more distinct bikeways at UCI, however, our hilly terrain is not easily conducive to such and there is always the issue of having enough funding.”
Unlike typical civil citations that can be prosecuted criminally, the bike policy enforced at UCI is drafted by UCI Administration. Students can appeal these citations through the Office of Parking and Transportation Services by speaking to a hearing officer about their situation.
The creation of distinct bikeways at UCI has long been discussed, but has never fully come to fruition. In the Nov. 30, 1987 issue of the New University, Associate Director of Student Activities and Chair of the Bike Safety Committee Peter Bowler confirmed forthcoming bikeways. This decision was made in reaction to a serious bicycle accident involving UCI undergraduate James Fitzgerald in which he remained comatose for several months.
“Eventually, as the campus is built out, a bike system will be constructed, which will separate people and bikes,” Bowler had said.
It is widely rumored around campus that the revamping initiated last spring took place after a UCI administrator was bumped into by a bicyclist near the Humanities plaza. However, Leslie Millerd, the student affairs communications director, said that she had no knowledge of any such incidents occurring.