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Say Farewell to IV’s Wild West Biking Days: Cyclists, Beware, New Bike Laws Aimed to Tame You and Your Two-Wheeled Steed

I was sitting around the other day thinking about random things. What would it taste like to spread a butterfly on toast? With all of the bobcats in the Los Padres Forest, wouldn’t it get confusing if everyone went by Bob? Wouldn’t Ice Cube and Ice-T make up the perfect rap duo for a hot summer day? Do loose cattle hang around bars? These are but a few of the topics that flip in and out of my mind as I sit watching the bicyclists zip back and forth through Isla Vista and UCSB. Sadly, my thoughts are often interrupted by the need to respond to yet another bike accident.

Bike collisions, be they with people, cars, other bikes, or even the occasional loose cattle has become an all-too-common problem in I.V. In the 20 years I’ve been here, the number of bikes seems to be growing, and the number of accidents is growing right along with it. Last year. the California Highway Patrol investigated 91 traffic collisions in Isla Vista. Seventeen of those were caused by bicyclists who were riding unsafely. On the UCSB campus, we investigated 18 injury bike accidents during Fall Quarter alone, and those are just the accidents that get reported. If there is any good news to take from these statistics, I am glad at least none of the accidents of late have involved loose cattle.

At UCSB, the Associated Students Bike Committee works hard on trying to improve the safety of the limited bike paths available. The Police Department has created a bike safety program that combines aggressive enforcement in dangerous areas with safety education classes instead of the nearly $200 fines the court charges for unruly biking. This has helped some, but we still have a long way to go with bike safety on campus. Isla Vista is like the Wild West, only with bikes instead of horses. No rules, cowboys and girls and curse them sheepherders!

The CHP has been working with A.S. B.I.K.E.S. on ways of improving biking safety in Isla Vista. The goal is to create a positive educational atmosphere instead of just going out and writing hundreds or thousands of tickets for running stop signs. If there is one thing that I know from experience, no matter how many happy faces I draw on a ticket, it still sucks.

The CHP, A.S. B.I.K.E.S. and UCSB Police will be kicking off their efforts with a bike safety event on Pardall Road near the entrance to UCSB. They are calling it “Brighten Up Isla Vista!” Apparently they didn’t like my idea to call it “Brighten Up the Town!” so they’re going with BUIV, which will be held on Wednesday, April 10 from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. In addition to booths that provide safety information, the UCSB mascot Olé and the CHP mascot Chipper will be handing out free bike lights! Yes, free! Give them a dollar, and you get a dollar back in change! The goal is to get people in the habit of using lights at night, reducing accidents and making Isla Vista a safer place to bike.

Call me Kreskin, but I can already guess what your question is going to be: Are they going to be writing tickets in Isla Vista? Not for a while yet but, yup, in a month or two, law enforcement will be starting to write tickets. Sadly that tends also to be an a major factor in encouraging people to ride their bikes more safely as well. For now, the main focus is going to be on education and inspiring safer biking. The worst part about getting a bike ticket in Isla Vista is that it won’t be eligible for the UCSB Bike Safety class. Hopefully those tickets will eventually be allowed to participate in the Bike Safety class. For now, since bikes are required to follow the same traffic laws as cars in Isla Vista, they will get the same ticket as a car. The fines can be brutal too. Figure about $200 for a stop sign or $500 for going through a stop light. Just think how you could have spent that money to go see a movie and get some popcorn. Well, these days, maybe a small popcorn.

I hope to see you all there at the “Brighten Up Isla Vista” event on Pardall Road on Wednesday, April 10 from noon till 3 p.m.! Take advantage of this opportunity to get a free bike light and other cool stuff. In the meantime, if you have questions about biking safety in Isla Vista or at UCSB, you can call Suzanne Perkin at the Dean of Students Office (893-4364) or CHP Officer James Richard (967-1234). And of course you can always question authority at QA@police.ucsb.edu.

Take care and ride safely!

Sgt. Signa knows that safety is inseparable with style … that’s why he glued a cowboy hat to the top of his bike helmet.

Got caught by a cop? Your party popped by the Po-Po? Ticked by a ticket? If you have questions, don’t let it eat away at you — Question Authority! Email me anytime at QA@police.ucsb.edu or call the UCSB Police Dept. at 893-3446.


A version of this article appeared on page 8 of the Monday, April 8, 2013 print edition of the Nexus.






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6 Responses to Say Farewell to IV’s Wild West Biking Days: Cyclists, Beware, New Bike Laws Aimed to Tame You and Your Two-Wheeled Steed

  1. Ant

    April 9, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    I wonder how many current UCSB students know who Kreskin is.

  2. Ian Vidalin

    April 8, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    I do believe cyclists should pay a lot more attention. Plenty of people ride on the wrong side of the road, on the sidewalk, without lights, without turn signals. Daily, I get aggravated by incompetent people and yell at them.

    However, to suggest that bicyclists should be subject to the same laws and fines as drivers is ridiculous. A bicycle weighs 20 pounds. A car weighs 4,000 pounds. Which do you think is more likely to kill someone?

    In civilized countries (majority of EU), a driver is automatically liable for a collision with a cyclist. Unless, he can prove that the bicyclist was at fault, he pays for the injuries sustained and damages done to equipment.

    As well in Europe, stop signs for cars are “YIELDS” to cyclists. Should bicyclists run through intersections at high speeds without looking around? No. Bicyclists should exercise caution; and thusly be given the right-of-way.

    Running a stop sign in a car at 20mph is EXTREMELY dangerous. This should warrant a $200 fine. On a bicycle at 8mph, not so much. It’s not even in the same ball park.

    • Jamal Valentin

      April 9, 2013 at 2:45 pm

      Many stop signs in IV should be replaced with traffic lights. There is simply far too much traffic between cars, pedestrians, and cyclists. No one but drivers obey traffic laws in IV. Cyclists and pedestrians walk across the street without regard for the sensitivities of drivers.

      It is incredibly lazy to suggest cars are more inherently dangerous than cyclists at traffic lights. Cyclists are a danger to themselves when they aggressively charge through stop signs because they know cars can’t do the same.

      If there are no cars stopped than bikers should be allowed to treat stop signs as yield signs, but beyond that they should come to a complete stop.

      Also, I’ve been to Europe and that is patently false. Cyclists are subject to incredibly ruthless laws in many nordic states. the many cities prohibit cyclists from riding on the road entirely, forcing them to ride on bike paths.

      In a two-way stop sign I can see cyclists being more liberal as far as following road laws. I couldn’t care less if they blow stop signs then. But in a four-stop sign the right of way has to be followed by everyone. WAY too many people and lives are at risk. Yolo.

  3. thank god

    April 8, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    THANK YOU SWEET JESUS. IV bikers think they own the road and constantly troll through stop signs and redlights unabated. I’m tired of sitting in my car for 10 minutes waiting to cross a stop sign as 100+ bikes stroll through without waiting ONE EFFING SECOND.

    it’s a complete disgrace.

    the law should apply to everyone. if bikers don’t have to follow the rules than neither should drivers.

  4. Anthony Ferrendelli

    April 8, 2013 at 9:41 am

    There is nothing wrong with the current state of biking in IV for people who are competent bike riders. The problem is with unskilled riders who don’t pay attention to their surroundings or think it’s appropriate to talk on their phones while oblivious to other people. But we will all be punished.

  5. Gabriel Nave

    April 8, 2013 at 8:55 am

    What has the world come to???? What a sad day when bikers in Isla Vista will be expected to stop at stop signs. Can’t you introduce a new sign that tells cars to STOP and bikes to YIELD? Or maybe just one sign that tells everyone to PLAY NICE?