I’ve gotten several letters and phone calls from people who have asked me to talk about biking on the sidewalks. It’s not that I forgot you all – well, OK, I forgot! Jeez, call a cop or something.

I got a ticket for riding my bike on the sidewalk. There was hardly anybody around, but the cop still gave me a ticket. Why so harsh?

Over the last few years, the UC Police Dept. has been increasing its efforts toward enforcing the bicycle laws and rules at UCSB. Of course, what that really means to you is that we are out there much more often, writing bike tickets. The most common ticket is for riding a bike on the sidewalk. Why? I’m glad you asked.

Try to look at it this way. If it was OK to ride your bike on the sidewalk, do you think it would be just one or two people doing it? Probably not. Everyone would take the shortest route to class, which is, of course, the sidewalks. So now combine the crowded bike traffic with the crowds of people walking along, and kaboom – insert cartoon explosion cloud with lots of squiggly lines and exclamation points!

If you have ever had to try to cross the bikepath by the Davidson Library right before or after classes got out, or tried to navigate your way across the bikepath by San Rafael, then you have a slight idea what the walkways could be like. I like Frogger, the video game, but I don’t think the live-action version would be too much fun just trying to walk across campus to get to class everyday.

Also, another thing you need to be aware of is that bikes, like me, the mighty puma, are very quick and silent. UCSB has prided itself for its open access to students from all types of backgrounds. This also includes those with various disabilities. The sidewalks should really be a safe place where you don’t have to worry about being run over.

Someone dumped a bike in my yard last month. Since no one has claimed it, can I use it for myself?

This question deserves an absolutely, completely decisive, no room for wiggle room, unequivocal maybe. In California, if you find property, you are required to make a reasonable effort to return it to its owner. Everyone loves the idea of “possession is nine-tenths of the law”, but that flies as well as Ronald McDonald being a guest speaker at a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) convention. It just don’t work.

If you find a bike, and you would like to claim it for yourself, you need to bring it to the local police department (UCPD or IV Foot Patrol). A records check will be run to verify the bike is not reported stolen. Then it will be held for 90 days so that the original owner has an opportunity to claim it. If no one claims it after 90 days, you have the right to claim it for yourself.

Oh, and by the way, when you use bolt-cutters to get the bike out of the bike rack, that’s not “finding.” Just wanted to be clear about that.

Also, before I sign off, I just want to give a quick thanks to all of the men and women who had to work in the rain this last week. As I sit here cradling my hot cocoa and cuddling next to the space heater (note to self: Edit out previous sentence), I need to remember those who are out there taking care of the campus in the most miserable of conditions. So thanks, and the next cup of joe is on me.

Ticked off by a ticket? Party popped by the Patrol? If you got questions, don’t let it eat away at you. Ask questions. Call or e-mail me anytime at mark.signa@police.ucsb.edu or at the Crime Prevention Office at 893-4063.