Several UCSB students have received traffic tickets this year after failing to walk their bikes along the crosswalk between Stadium Road and El Colegio Road.
Nearly half of this year’s bike tickets were given to cyclists who did not adhere to the warning signs placed in front of the Stadium and El Colegio intersection. The signs order bicyclists to walk their bikes through the crosswalk, threatening to cite those who disobey.
University of California Police Dept. (UCPD) Officer Mark Signasaid he can understand why some riders might neglect the signs.
“Because the bike path goes right to the crosswalk, it’s easy for bikers to ride straight through instead of walk through,” Signa said.
He said UCPD officers sometimes patrol the intersection and cite bicyclists for disobeying the signs and signals. Since a bike is considered a vehicle, all bicyclists must obey the same laws drivers must abide by, Signa said.
First-year psychology major Jinnelle Matsumotosaid she received a ticket for riding her bike in the crosswalk at Stadium and El Colegio in late January. She said she knew she was not allowed to ride her bike there, but felt that her ticket was unfair because the police officer was not in plain sight.
“People riding from the other direction could see the cop, so they got off their bikes, but people coming in my direction couldn’t see him,” Matsumoto said.
Signa said having officers patrol the intersection has greatly reduced the number of bicycle infractions at the crosswalk. However, Signa said many of the bicyclists still ride through the intersection once the police have left.
Bicyclists place pedestrians in danger when they ride in the crosswalk because they force pedestrians to walk in the street, Signa said. He also said the intersection is dangerous because El Colegio often experiences heavy traffic, which increases the chances of an accident.
Despite her experience, Matsumoto said she now understands why it is important for cyclists to walk their bikes when entering the crosswalk.
“I used to think [having to walk your bike] was stupid,” Matsumoto said. “But I was driving through that intersection in the dark and a kid was riding his bike in the intersection. I couldn’t see him and accidentally clipped his tire.”
Signa said bicyclists who do not wish to dismount their bike can ride outside the crosswalk, but only if they are riding with the proper flow of traffic.
He also said the UCPD officers do not ticket students in order to reach a quota, because no such quota exists.
“Our goal is zero [tickets],” Signa said. “We don’t want to write tickets.”
Bike tickets are $124, but can be reduced to $35 if the cited person opts to take a bike safety class offered by the UCPD.
Signa said the UCPD hopes the combination of bike safety education and law enforcement will make the community safer for bicyclists, pedestrians and vehicles alike.
“Before [we offered the class], people would fly through the intersection, but now more people walk through,” Signa said.
He said the money from the bike safety classes goes directly back to making the campus safer for bikes. The UCPD is currently working in conjunction with the Associated Students Bicycle Improvements Keep Everyone Safe (A.S. B.I.K.E.S.) program to put up more signs informing students of bike laws around campus and designing pamphlets to hand out in an effort to reduce the number of tickets written.
However, Matsumoto said she doubts the infractions are caused by ignorance.
“The signs around campus are obvious, and people aren’t blind,” Matsumoto said. “People know the rules – they just don’t think they’ll get caught.”