Why do we need bikes to be ridden across campus?
There is a proposal to change Presidential Directive 90-01, the bike policy at SJSU, I am a bicyclist and I am against such a change. In my opinion it is not necessary to change this policy. In my opinion, the policy as currently constituted meets the needs of the university. In fact, in my opinion the need today may be even greater than it was then to have such a policy to protect the safety of both pedestrians and cyclists.
If you go to this page on the Website of the Parking Traffic and Transit Advisory Committee at SJSU, you can view all the related proposals. On this page you can read a story that ran in the Spartan Daily on the subject.
A question of safety
I was the president of the staff employees union at the time the old rule was passed and was on the Campuswide Safety Advisory Committee (CSAC) that recommended to the university president Gail Fullerton that bicycle riding, not bicycles themselves, be banned from the campus core. This was after several people were struck by speeding bicyclists in and around the campus.
Why is this policy needed even more now?
Most folks riding bikes on campus are not trained cyclists using appropriate safety gear and practicing appropriate riding safety. In my opinion the old policy is even more needed more now because there are more people on campus and the casual cyclists are more distracted by things like cell phones and iPods that did not exist when the old bicycle policy was drafted. A large number of these casual cyclists do not use safety devices like bicycle helmets or use bells and other devices to alert pedestrians to their presence. Even if the cyclists do attempt to be heard, many students now have iPods and phone headsets and are less aware of their surroundings than ever before. Despite this many cyclists, and I use that term now to mean anybody riding a bike on campus, ride at an unsafe speed through crowds and often do not warn folks on campus of their presence. I have seen, and photographed, folks riding track bikes on campus. These are hard core racing bikes that only have one gear, a fast gear, and do not have brakes. Track bikes are designed to be ridden on bicycle racing tracks, like the San Jose Velodrome in Hellyer Park.
What about students, faculty and staff who are disabled?
According to the Spartan Daily Temesgen Atzbaha, Associated Students director of campus climate affairs and member of the Parking, Traffic and Transportation Committee, said the current bicycle policy is “unclear and that the new policy would make rules easier to understand.” That is all well and good, in my opinion, but it does not meet the needs of folks who are most likely to be impacted, literally, if bicycles are ridden on campus. Disabled members of the campus community may not hear or see the approach of a bicyclist and/or may not be able to get out of a bicyclists way or may even go into their path.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
In my opinion the old policy was adequate. To be clear, the old policy did not ban bicycles on campus. The old policy identified bicycle corridors on campus where bicycles could be ridden, they could be walked in the campus core. This way bicycles could be brought close enough to be safely walked the remaining short distance needed to reach anywhere a bike could need to go at SJSU. What I think we need is more, not less, enforcement of the bicycle policy (and remember I am a bicyclist!) If the policy isn’t broken, why “fix” it?