I am writing in response to Tye Simpson’s letter (The Reader’s Voice, “Design Review Committee Backs Bikepath Concept,” May 15). I found the letter to be a misrepresentation of the facts. It is true that, in theory, the Design Review Committee claims to approve of completing the cross-campus bikepath. Last year the DRC commented favorably on a plan that would require a complete redesign of the Broida Plaza. Specifically, the removal of all five “temporary” Engineering trailers was required. To fail to acknowledge the reality that there is no anticipated date for the removal of these Engineering trailers and the admission by most administrators on campus that the trailers will be there for the foreseeable future is to overstate the DRC’s approval of a Broida bikepath.
In addition, the reason the DRC delayed the proposed modified Broida plan was not, as Tye Simpson said, due to the stripped down nature of the proposal but due to the development of long-range area plans that the DRC requested by a team of outside consultants. It should be noted that in private conversations with the outside consultants, I found them to be urging the campus to reconsider the priority bikes have on campus. One individual even went as far as to suggest the solution to this would be to ban bikes from campus altogether.
Finally the plan that the DRC rejected was not a stripped-down version. It was developed at a cost of approximately $20,000 by a reputable design firm, RRM Design. These designers were selected for their familiarity with bikepath design and are recognized in their field. The plan would have moved one trailer, cut down one fungus infected pine tree and one small eucalyptus tree and redesigned both ends of the bikepath and the seating area outside geology. The path itself would have been buffered on both sides by new landscaping and protective hardscape to ensure the safety of pedestrians. The projected cost of this project was approximately $400,000.
I will stand behind my statement that the DRC did indeed indefinitely delay any cross-campus bikepath. The plan presented was not a stripped-down version with a strip of asphalt through the plaza, as stated by Tye Simpson. It was a professionally designed plan that could have delivered a bikepath within 14 months. Instead, it seems we will have to wait for the removal of the trailers in Broida – five to 10 years – or wait for the area plans to be adopted and the biology buildings removed – 10 to 20 years – before this project is completed. Currently, without a bikepath in place, hundreds of bicyclists are forced to ride illegally through this area every day. Some make it through unmolested. Others receive a $77 ticket for riding on the sidewalk. Enforcement works temporarily, but a much better option is to design an effective system.
It should also be noted that UCSB is a custodian for a segment of the California Coastal Bike Trail. This trail runs between the Engineering and Chemistry buildings. This bike path will be closed for several months during the summer and currently no alternative route has been identified. On the one hand, members of the administration claim to support bikepaths; on the other hand, actions speak louder than words.
I know there are both faculty and administrators who would like to see a bike-free campus. I think they are wrong. When students were asked to support bikepaths on campus with a lock-in fee, 84 percent voted in favor. When asked, the most often requested improvement is the Broida expressway – over 1,000 students have signed petitions. Both the Graduate Student Association and the Associated Students Legislative Council have passed resolutions in support of this path, and now, four years after my advocacy for completion of this missing segment, we are perhaps farther from success than ever before. Every bike on campus is one less car. It’s time to get proactive and support bicycle commuting and transportation at UCSB.
Jim Dalton is the GSA vice president of administrative affairs. He has also been the graduate student representative to the following committees three out of the last four years: Public Safety, AS Bikes, and Parking and Transportation.