One thousand free bicycle lights were given away to students in front of Angry Wings on Pardall Road today in an effort to “Brighten up I.V.”
Organized by Associated Students External Vice President of Local Affairs Rhandy Siordia, “Brighten up I.V.” relied on a coordinated volunteer effort from organizations including the Associated Students Bike Commission, the Dean of Students Office and the California Highway Patrol.
Senior Associate Dean for Student Life Debbie Flemming said the collaboration was established in light of issues related to bicycle safety in Isla Vista.
“We have a lot of accidents in Isla Vista,” Flemming said. “We have a lot of bikes, a lot of students on bikes and we wanted to raise the awareness of bike safety and rules in Isla Vista.”
The event allocated most of its funding to purchase the 1,000 bicycle lights from the A.S. Bike Commission and the Dean of Students Office, and was a success that drew many participants, according to Flemming.
“We are totally out,” Flemming said. “We gave them all away within two hours.”
Throughout the event, officers from the California Highway Patrol answered questions about bicycle riding laws and provided other safety advice. CHP officer Jim Richards said the frequency of major bicycle accidents in Isla Vista called for their attention.
“We have approximately 20 serious biking accidents or collisions a year involving bicyclists,” Richards said. “There are [also] hundreds that go unreported. And that is just Isla Vista. On the university itself they have quite a bit more actually.”
According to Richards, CHP, student leadership and the university have collaborated to examine positive solutions to achieve accident reduction.
“There are a lot of bicycles in a small 1.5 square miles,” Richards said. “This is a positive upbeat approach and it is certainly better than the other way that the highway patrol knows how to deal with it, which is just to stand in that corner and write hundreds of traffic tickets. And those traffic tickets cost anywhere between 170 and 225 dollars.”
Richards said bikers in I.V., who typically refrain from following road rules and stopping at stop signs, make it difficult for motorists to maintain road safety. According to Richards, drivers less experienced with Isla Vista road traffic — such as out-of-towners or students’ parents — can easily be caught in a collision with a biker.
“We just handled two serious collisions involving bicycles within the last week, and the ones that I’m talking about that we investigate [are] where the cyclist ends up in the emergency room, not just a little bump,” Richards said.
Assistant Director and Policy Analyst of Judicial Affairs Suzanne Perkin said giving out bike lights takes the first step toward a larger goal of making bikers in Isla Vista aware of safety rules and regulations.
“We put this committee together to really think about anything we can do to make I.V. and campus a safer place for students on bikes,” Perkin said. “There were lots of ideas out there but it seems the most likely thing we could do was to give out bike lights.”
According to Flemming, UCSB students played a large role in planning “Brighten up I.V.” and making the event a success.
“I think it was really cool that the idea was originally from students and we made it happen,” Flemming said.
According to Richards, the event shows how cooperation between law enforcement and the community can have a profound effect on the safety of the community.
“Without the university and student leadership, this event would not have happened,” Richards said. “Student leadership and Rhandy Siordia have been involved from start to finish.”