A campus project choked to death in university red tape is certainly nothing new. However, sometimes the frustratingly slow pace of bureaucratic machinery manages to surpass all expectations. Case in point: the Broida Expressway.
A week ago, the UCSB Design Review Committee (DRC) voted to delay plans to create a bikepath connecting the Engineering Building to Broida Hall. The project will not be discussed further until 2002. If it is to be completed at all, construction will not take place for another five to six years. In the meantime, students must walk their bikes between Davidson Library and the Chemistry Building, or risk being fined $77 for riding on the sidewalk. The fine was recently upped from $55 to further deter students from cycling around this busy pedestrian area.
Currently, the university pays the county for law enforcement officers to issue bicycle citations, and in addition, the money from these citations goes back to the county. Perhaps it would be more useful for the university to examine why cyclists continue to break this law and endanger people walking on the sidewalk, instead of paying officers to patrol for lawbreakers.
The Broida Expressway would create a continuous bikepath loop around the university. Currently, the area around Engineering and Chemistry is the only significant place on campus not serviced by bikepaths. With approximately 14,000 bikes ridden onto the university every day, the lack of bicycle access to the east campus is extremely inconvenient.
One thousand students signed a petition in favor of the expressway, and the idea passed through a number of campus committees. And for the last two years, Associated Students Legislative Council unanimously passed position papers supporting the bikepath. The DRC has spent over $20,000 on the planning and design of the expressway, including landscaping, alternate routes and a complete estimate of costs. However, the project is now up in the air after the DRC decided to delay it, conduct further planning and consider possible alternative sites for the path that would not interfere with construction of future faculty housing and parking structures.
Graduate student Jim Dalton, a member of the campus bicycle safety committee, has been campaigning for the expressway for several years, and now fears the DRC’s decision will delay the project indefinitely. But really, how hard is it to construct a strip of asphalt 2 yards wide, painted with a yellow stripe down the center?
If the university does decide to use the east campus area to build faculty housing or parking structures in the future, surely at that stage it could simply re-route the bikepath. In the scheme of things, asphalt is not that expensive. Construction of the Donald Bren School of Environmental Science & Management is underway in this area of campus. The $22 million, 85,000 square-foot building is four stories high and contains environmentally state-of-the-art, energy efficient technology. Yet, the university expects the Bren School to be completed within three years of initial construction. The Broida Expressway will not be open until 2006 at the earliest.
The university must consider the necessity of this bikepath. The number of students is increasing every year, and so is the number of bikes. There is no question that fines should be high for cycling on sidewalks – there is a significant safety concern. However, the university cannot turn a blind eye to the reason why most students are doing this. Bicycle access to east campus is completely inadequate. The Broida Expressway is a project that could easily achieve fruition if the university considered the immediate needs of students over potential future construction plans.