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USC bike summit puts safety first

USC Bike Summit Puts Safety First
Carey Drayton, executive director of the Department of Public Safety, right, speaks with a student about the use of bicycles on campus.

In an effort to promote a pedestrian-friendly environment, USC held its first bike summit on Jan. 18 in the Ronald Tutor Campus Center Ballroom.

“Bicycle safety is really the first foray into the ‘We Are Considerate’ campaign,” said director of orientation programs Tom Studdert, who is spearheading the Student Affairs effort to remind Trojans to be courteous, especially while riding bicycles and skateboards on the university’s campuses.

As part of that campaign, USC hired the consulting firm Kendall Planning + Design (KDP) in October to address bicycle safety on and off campus. At the summit, KDP presented its research findings to more than 100 students, staff, faculty, community members and representatives from the USC Department of Public Safety, USC Transportation, USC Cycling and the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition.

“USC has an opportunity to be a model for sustainable transportation in the Los Angeles region,” said KDP’s lead architect Alison Kendall during a presentation that covered bicycle parking, services, access and circulation, as well as education and enforcement.

In a survey sent out to more than 2,000 members of the campus community, KDP found that more than 7,000 cyclists ride on campus and an additional 8,000 ride off campus each day. Of those 15,000 cyclists, 50 percent are undergraduate students. And of that 50 percent, one in five hadn’t ridden a bike before coming to USC.

During the second half of the summit, the audience participated in a Q&A with KDP’s lead researchers to discuss potential plans for the future.

Sharing experiences were students like Brian Quock, a junior majoring in chemical engineering.

“I live off campus, and I have to cross through the Jefferson and McClintock intersection every day. It’s just complete chaos,” he said. “You really need to know how to avoid cyclists. The university needs to come up with a way to separate the two.”

USC will hold another summit in April to discuss final plans for implementing new safety measures, and the administration plans to weigh all options carefully.

“The status quo cannot remain,” said USC vice president for Student Affairs Michael L. Jackson. “We’ve had some very serious accidents. We’ve had people put in the hospital because they’ve been run over by bicycles. So we have to change that dynamic and get all of us to be more responsible.”

While the “We are Considerate” campaign is in its early stages, Studdert is optimistic that the message is getting through: “What we have seen and heard so far is that people are talking about the campaign. Bike safety is coming to the forefront.”

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