The Road Ahead for a Bike-Friendly Campus

     

    Truthfully, UCSD could never rival the bicycle cultures of UC Santa Barbara or UC Davis. For one, our campus has many slopes that discourage casual cyclists — i.e. Peterson Hill and the campus entrance at Gilman Drive. Davis, on the other hand, is almost completely flat and is in a less urban environment. Generally, the surrounding community of San Diego is not pedestrian and bike-friendly, with roads and shopping centers designed mainly to facilitate car travel. The speed limits on both Genesee Avenue and La Jolla Village Drive are around 45 mph. This has the added effect of frightening nearby potential cyclists from commuting.

    Even more troubling is that the proportion of bicycle trips compared to all trips to campus has actually declined since 2001. The UCSD Survey of Pedestrian and Vehicle Traffic found that 5.3 percent of all trips on campus were by cyclists in 2001, but by 2011, that number had declined to 2.8 percent. 

    Nonetheless, UCSD is ripe for increasing bicycle usage. Thirty percent of daily vehicle trips are less than three miles, which is a distance ideal for bike conversion, according to the 2012 UCSD Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Planning Study.

    Despite these significant constraints, we should not shy away from increasing the number of cyclists on campus. The shift from using cars to bikes would make our campus more environmentally sustainable and would improve the health of UCSD students. BPMPS has already identified $13.9 million in potential improvements, with the top five priority projects costing $1.7 million. Buselt and the incoming A.S. Council should immediately find grant opportunities that would help fund these measures.

    Among the BPMPS priority projects are creating more bike routes, specifically from Hopkins Lane to Earl Warren College, adding a bike path alternative to Library Walk through the eucalyptus grove, completing the bicycle lane along Gilman Drive and expanding the future bike path from the Sorrento Coaster station to UCSD. These projects would target the most traffic-heavy areas of UCSD and make the campus more amenable to cyclist commuters. Only 43 percent of campus roadways currently support bicycle lanes, so there is additional room for improvement there. The study recommends adding bike parking to much-needed areas, i.e. Price Center.

    Buselt has also promoted bike sharing, but this should come second to the addition of bike paths and routes. There is no need to add to the share of bikes until the campus can actually handle the current amount. Triton Bikes in the Gilman Parking Structure already offers bike rentals, so this program should be marketed prior to expansion.

    We should not expect a transformation of UCSD within one academic year, but with the right push from student government, we can slowly add more bike paths and decrease clogged roads.

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