Monday, January 13, 2014

Towards Ending the Decline of Bicycle Infrastructure Around UCLA

Cycling to UCLA has probably become worse in the last few years. Routes to campus are unsafe, uninviting, dangerous and some are literally locked. Very few would send their child or their mother on those routes. That must change. Bicycle access to UCLA must become a safe and healthy option for all. 

The time for bicycle improvements has come
We have tool libraries, bike counters, super sharrows and loaner bikes on campus. But in 2014, it is time to face the real difficult issues. It is time for the campus to work with surrounding communities and agencies to make bicycle access to UCLA a safe and healthy option for all. It is time to use the expertise and influence of our institution to develop alternatives and advocate for safe bicycle access to the campus. How can we address the systemic lack of bicycle infrastructure connecting to UCLA?

Granted, the campus has no direct jurisdiction in the surrounding area. Still, the case could be made that our administration, preferring not to get involved, shares the blame for the dire state of affairs. As the campus is politely refraining from participating in the planning processes, declining to represent the interest of those who would rather bike, it became very easy for Council Member Koretz to listen to a few well-organised home-owners who have a hard time seeing the universal benefits of bicycle infrastructure. The silence of UCLA encouraged Koretz to kill a crucial bike lane which would connect UCLA to the Expo Station in Westwood and which is a dedicated back-bone connection in the LA Bicycle Masterplan, which was adopted with his own vote.

As the case of the lost bikelane for Westwood Blvd shows, a direct line can be drawn from the policy not getting involved to the neglect of bicycle infrastructure. To change this, we need to remind the campus of the multiple benefits of providing for current and future cyclists in the environs of the campus. UCLA needs to support local bicycle infrastructure explicitly and specifically, it needs to reach out and educate local constituents and decision-makers about the manifold benefits of more people cycling to campus. 

Together with the Bicycle Coalition at UCLA and with the support of Professor David Eisenberg, we have made this case in a letter addressed to the Chancellor Gene Block. In order to overcome the barriers and bottlenecks, and to set free a large, pent up demand for safe and welcoming bike routes, the letter suggests that the chancellor set up an executive committee. We have called it the Healthy Campus Access Committee, in line with the successful Healthy Campus Initiative

We suggest that the campus adopt policy guidelines and fund a full time staff person working to give Bruins and their neighbors the choice of active and healthy modes when going to campus. The lack of connections for cyclists, some of it ridiculous, all of it depressing and scandalous, has to be tackled with urgency.

What is the UCLA cyclist to do? Well, for one: Sign our letter by sending an email to, sharing you name and position/role/title at UCLA (no spam promise!) Let us know if you can join us for a bike ride to hand over the letter. The list of our signers is here

Want to do more? Write your very own new-years email to the Vice Chancellor for Government and Community Relations He told us that currently, cycling issues are of the lowest priority for the administration. Share your personal story and outline the need for a reversal of this policy. Write about your experiences, about the duty of care the university has towards its community, make suggestions how the university could engage the surrounding areas. Raise questions which require an answer. Ask them to study why we have seen a steady decline of important bicycle connections to campus while elsewhere the cause of active, healthy transport finds more and more supporters. 

2014 is a good time to wake up the 800 pound gorilla which failed to stop the decline of bicycle infrastructure around UCLA. After the I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements ($1.149 billion) - here is wishing that the new year will bring a rich harvest of UCLA Bicycle Access Improvements. 

No comments: