The UCSB Police Dept. (UCPD) is considering implementing a section of the California Vehicle Code currently not enforced on campus, which would require bicycles to have reflectors and lamps emitting white light at night.
UCPD Lt. Cathy Farley said UCSB and Isla Vista community members have recently sent emails to the department and have spoken to officers on night patrol to express their concern over the safety of bicyclists who ride without lights through parking lots and on the street at night. Farley said the department has not decided when or if it will enforce the requirement, nor has it decided how much a citation for a violation would cost.
“We are welcoming any community input on the problem,” Farley said.
Farley said the UCPD is in the midst of discussing possible types and prices of lights that they may require students to purchase. The cost of bike lights range from about $10 to $20.
According to the California Vehicle Code Section 21201, cyclists riding on major roads at night must attach a lamp to the front of their bike that emits a white light and can be seen 300 feet from the front and sides. They must also have a red reflector on the bike’s rear, visible from 500 feet away, and a white or yellow reflector on each pedal that can be seen 200 feet from the front and back of the bike.
Although UCPD does not currently enforce section 21201, it does fine cyclists in violation of other parts of the code, including the section that prohibits riding on walkways. Farley said officers have ticketed students throughout campus — including heavily trafficked areas near Robertson Gym, Harder Stadium and Broida Hall — for this violation.
Since last year, Farley said, staff and faculty members as well as students have received citations of more than $120 for riding bikes in walking zones on campus.
“There is a lot of compliance right now,” Farley said.
First-year political science and environmental studies major Erika Scott said she thinks bike safety is important but does not think it should be so strictly enforced on campus.
“It’s good to have bike lights,” Scott said. “It’s definitely safer because people can see you. But officers can catch you riding off the bike lane and give you a ridiculous ticket of $125.”
Farley said the majority of people receiving their first citation are allowed to take a bike safety class to avoid the hefty fine.
According to the UCPD bicycle/skateboard safety class information flyer, participants must attend a one-hour presentation held on the first and third Saturday of each month at 3 p.m. Violators must either stop by or call the UCPD, then go to the class and pay a $35 fee within 21 days of their citation.
Funding from the bike education classes pays for additional officer presence and new signs advertising bike safety classes through Associated Students, Farley said.