Welcome to UCSBicycle, the campus where there are more bikes than cars. Easily. Here, bikes are basic transportation and riding them is akin to driving on the 101 or 405 freeways, and it pays to be alert.
As the university grew up over the past 50 years, the bicycle became an integral part of the physical plan, which describes a concentric circulation system with cars at the perimeter, bicycles inside that and a pedestrian core. The bike paths form a discontinuous network connected with roundabout intersections. When budgets were flush and real estate plentiful, underpasses were built to separate cars from pedestrians and bikes. Nowadays, police enforce the vehicle code and issue citations for riding on the sidewalk (around $100) and disobeying traffic signs on roads and bike paths.
Funding the bike system has been a challenge over the years, but students can look forward to a replacement bike path at the Kohn Hall and Materials Research Lab service road with a new segment that connects the service road with the Marine Science Research Building segment. The biggest change this year will be the twin projects flanking the Pardall bike path from Isla Vista (between parking lots 22 and 23) when the Student Resource Building and Campus Parking Structure 3 begin construction. Notices, signs, detours and alternative routes will be established to make the transition as smooth as possible.
Students funded a “missing-link” cross-campus route, sometimes known as the “Broida Expressway,” which connects the Davidson Library path to Lagoon Road. Construction will begin next summer, beginning a new approach to bike path planning focusing on a distributed network of bike paths that follow the campus grid of open spaces between buildings.
The San Clemente graduate student housing on El Colegio Road at the west entry to campus is in the final design stages. This project will reconstruct El Colegio as an improved gateway between UCSB and Isla Vista, with both an on-street bike lane and a new bike path on the north side of the road.
There are a number of ways students can become involved. The A.S. BIKES (Associated Students Bicycle Improvements Keep Everyone Safe) committee has done a fantastic job of bringing much-needed changes. The Public Safety Committee deals with bicycle issues at every meeting. The Americans With Disabilities Act Advisory Group is charged with the safety and accessibility of the campus for the disabled. The Design Review Committee evaluates and comments on the design of major construction projects.
While the system assumes that users are knowledgeable, skilled and attentive, the most common accidents result from inattention. Cyclists should watch out for inconsiderate or aggressive riders, including those using cell phones and going the wrong direction on roundabouts.
There are a number of bike issues to be resolved. The search continues for the ideal bike rack. The campus needs short-term, high-quality bike parking lots located at high-use locations. Secure, convenient lockers or cages are also needed.
The campus bike system is an evolving vision of Biketopia – a more perfect world for cycling. My simple vision includes three things: Ride single-file, use hand signals when turning and use a bell to signal passing. What’s your vision?
Dennis Whelan is the senior campus planner for UCSB’s Campus Planning and Design Dept.