Mad cow disease! Got your attention? No? How about Avian flu pandemic. No? Okay, let’s try last week’s “Family Guy.” There, that works. I figure with those teasers, I probably have about 10 percent of the readers out there paying attention. The truth is that there is no one hook that gets the message to everyone. You have to try several ways to get your message across. Sometimes it takes a serious topic, i.e. the bird flu. Sometimes it takes something funny like “Family Guy.” For others it might be somewhere in between. Well, I guess mad cow disease is really serious, but doesn’t just saying it make you think of a cartoon cow foaming at the mouth while wearing a tutu and singing Village People’s “In the Navy”? Well, maybe that’s just what gets my attention.

I just got a ticket for riding my bike across the intersection at El Colegio and Stadium Road. If it was never a problem before, why are the cops writing so many tickets there now?

Although we did not spend a lot of time enforcing the signs and signals at that intersection in the past that should not infer that it wasn’t a problem before. Over the last year, the UCSB Police Dept. has been taking a more pro-active approach towards enforcing bike laws. We’ve tried to spend more time at areas that are hazardous, not only to pedestrians, but bikers as well. That intersection is probably one of the more hazardous ones at UCSB. Cars routinely drive through at 45 mph and the bike path and pedestrian paths come together at the crossing.

You can argue that the intersection design is unsafe and that it needs to be re-designed. Not too many of us would argue against that. The truth is that there are plans in the works redesigning many of the intersections along El Colegio and on campus. Unfortunately it may be a long time before these changes can be made. In the meantime we have to work with the intersection the way it is now. Realizing that, the safety of the pedestrians crossing there must come first, but when bikes and pedestrians cross there, it’s always the pedestrians that are forced to walk outside of the crosswalk and in the roadway to avoid the bikes zipping past them. It’s a hassle for the bikers to stop and walk across the intersection, but when faced with a choice of safety or convenience, we have to choose safety.

Unfortunately just warning people doesn’t work, so we have to use another tool to get the attention of the bicyclists. Police officers are now enforcing the laws that require bikers to obey the “Walk your bike” signs and issue citations. Is it 100 percent effective? No. But it is having an effect. I now see more bikers stopping and walking than I did last year. The $125 fine is expensive, but it does get people’s attention. And that leads us into the next question.

One-hundred twenty five dollars for a bike ticket? That sucks.

Okay, so that was more of a comment than a question, but I would have to agree – $125 is a lot of money. However, we realize that we are writing a lot of tickets and that the fines are really high. The police dept. is offering a $35 bike safety class that allows the holder of the golden ticket to complete a one-hour discussion on bike safety and the impacts of biking at UCSB. Completing the class will result in their ticket being dismissed. The goal of this class is not to make everyone a perfect bicyclist, but more importantly, to educate everyone on some of the safety issues UCSB is facing with the huge number of bikes on campus everyday. Hopefully, bikers will develop some safer biking habits.

Biking at UCSB and in Isla Vista is a concern for everyone. We all want to make this a safer community. Tonight at 7, there is the Isla Vista Town Hall Meeting. Bike safety and bike theft are the primary topics of the evening and we will be joined by 3rd District Supervisor Brooks Firestone and other local community members. This is your chance to get involved with the issues that affect I.V. and help us work on solutions to make this a safer community. Did I mention we will be raffling off a free bike donated by Associated Students and gift certificates from the UCSB Bookstore and local businesses? There’s the hook.

Got caught by a cop? Your party popped by the Po-Po? Ticked off by a ticket? If you have questions, don’t let it eat away at you, Question Authority! E-mail me anytime at: or call me at the Crime Prevention Office: 893-4063.