by Anshu Siripurapu
Responding to the growing problem of dangerous and erratic bicycle traffic, the Department of Public Safety announced Friday it will be implementing a campus-wide system of checkpoints and traffic cameras to more effectively enforce bicycle security measures.
“We can no longer ignore this obvious threat to the safety of our students,” DPS Commissioner Rob Berry said on his segway, as he narrowly avoided a collision with an oncoming biker. “We have to get tough on bike crime now before the situation gets more out of hand.”
The new system, set to launch at the end of the 2015-2016 academic year at a cost of $6.9 million, will place stop lights and cameras at strategic locations around the campus. In addition, a speed limit of 10 mph will be established on all campus streets, which will be further partitioned into three lanes, the right for pedestrians, and the middle and left for bicycles.
DPS is considering implementing an express lane similar to those on the 110 freeway with FastTak transponders available online for $25, or at the USC Bookstore for $100.
“Our goal is to create the most safe and efficient campus for cyclists in the United States,” Shaw Plifting, DPS deputy chief and designer of the new system said. “Reducing bike collisions will save the campus collectively an average of 10,000 minutes a day.”
Starting in 2016, all student cyclists will have to register their bikes with the new Department of Unmotorized Vehicles located in Parking Structure X. They will then be issued a biker’s license which must be produced within three days of receiving a citation. Failure to do so could result in students’ bikes being impounded for 30 days or more.
In addition to being ticketed by DPS Officers, students can also be nabbed by any of the traffic cameras on campus which can snap a picture of a bike’s serial number, cross reference it with the DPS mainframe and send a bill right to students’ dorms. Fines range from a $25 dollar charge for speeding to $100 and a possible license suspension for Biking Under the Influence.
The announcement generated widely varying responses from both students and advocacy groups. Patti Gere, a spokesperson for the United Mothers Against Drunk Bike Riders Organization praised the decision as a welcome step to eliminating BUIs.
UMADBRO has lobbied the administration for years to crackdown on the problem of drunk biking but was unsuccessful until now.
“I think we can all rest a little easier at night knowing our children won’t be hit by intoxicated cyclists,” Gere said.
Students responses were much more mixed.
“I would definitely feel safer having the new system in place,” John Wheeler, a freshman majoring in computer science games said. “I live in perpetual fear of being hit by a bike on my way to class.”
Other students were openly critical of the system.
“This is just another example of too much government,” Richard Chainy, a junior majoring in political science said. “I don’t need DPS to tell me where and how fast I can ride my bike. That’s why we have the 2nd Amendment.”