UCLA Bicycle Academy

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UCLA Bicycle Academy c/o Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition 634 S Spring Street # 821, Los Angeles CA 90014 November 2009 Open Letter Chancellor Gene Block UCLA Dear Sir, There is little doubt that sustainability is the defining social movement of our time. It shapes consciousness today and quality of life of future generations. Institutions and individuals everywhere are re-examining their contribution to the environmental crisis. In Los Angeles, the single most important contributor to this crisis is the automobile. UCLA has made enormous strides in reducing car dependency by subsidizing public transport, providing for van pooling, etc. These initiatives express UCLA's commitment to providing sustainable alternatives to the car. Through these initiatives, every day many commuters become part of the solution, rather than the problem. In recent years, biking has enjoyed a nationwide renaissance. UCLA has responded to this by the adoption, in 2006, of the Bicycle Master Plan (BMP). This document lays out the process by which cycling can become a safe and easy option for the commute to campus. However, the implementation of this plan has encountered obstacles. Bicycle commuters feel excluded from the successful transit programs on campus. The support provided for the commuting cyclist is often limited to the geographical area of the campus. This could result in a significant gap in the sustainability agenda to which the campus has committed itself, including, most recently, the Los Angeles Regional Collaborative for Climate Action and Sustainability (LARC). In order to realize the full potential of the bicycle in the sustainability crisis, to which every gallon of gas contributes, we offer these suggestions. References below are to the 2006 Bicycle Master Plan A) Improve bike access to campus (BMP 4.1) Creating bicycle routes to campus is a cheap and effective way to make the campus and the region more sustainable. The neglect of the bicycle commuter, so common in this car-centric city, has earned UCLA the dubious honor of the "stupidest bike-lane in America" (Google) on its doorstep. - Bike routes on Wilshire, Westwood, Sepulveda, Sunset, - improve rider safety (pavement condition on all approaches, sharrows, signage, maintenance) - Work with National Cemetery to re-open old pathway to UCLA which was closed in the aftermath of 9/11, and collaborate with Veterans Administration for improved bike infrastructure - Work with local jurisdictions and landowners (Caltrans, LADOT, Country Club) and demand bikeable corridors for UCLA commuters - All campus wayfinding, maps and web-based information should include the bicycle as an option B) Create incentives for commuters to ride their bikes to campus (BMP 4.4) Encouraging bicycle commuters will have a great rate of return in health benefits, reduced carbon footprint, and less car traffic, and more bikes means more safety for all cyclists - Develop a Parking Cash-Out program similar to AB 2109 or HR 807 - Conduct Bike-To-Work week as a bike commuter recruitment tool, fully engage existing and potential cyclists instead of simply giving out freebies - Provide safe cycling education classes and guidelines for staff and faculty (4.6.1) - Present bike commuting as a viable option to all new employees, offer Emergency Ride Home and parking benefits for bike commuters - Address inadequate locker capacity at Recreation as this limits shower access for many cyclists - Adjust Park by Space program to allow reduced rates for ride-card holders; Set goals for increasing the number of cycling commuters C) Community relations (BMP 3.3, 4.7.3) As cities all over the world strive to increase their share of bicycle trips, it has become common knowledge that the quality of bicycle provision is directly dependent upon the close involvement of commuting cyclists in the planning process. But in California non-bike commuters frequently make decisions about priorities and facilities for cyclists. The results are consistently disappointing. The situation is so grave that Caltrans is now offering a re-education program for traffic engineers. Sam Corbett, the lead author of the BMP, was such a commuting cyclist. Since his departure we have seen a consistent de-prioritization of the needs of the commuter cyclists on the approaches to campus, putting UCLA close to the bottom of the UC system in this respect. It would be interesting to express the cost of such neglect in accident figures and green house gas emissions, and compare this with the savings achieved by staffing decisions. Caltrans, LADOT and other large institutions have established Bicycle Advisory Committees. Such a body could connect Transportation Services with the intellectual elite of a world class university. Without the ability to listen to the commuting cyclists, Transportation Services may isolate itself from its own constituency: As when an academic department which finds the entire length of its building covered by rather useless bike racks, has recently created separate bike parking opportunities inside its building. Three years after the adoption of the Bicycle Master Plan, there is growing concern among bicycle commuters. The hard work with neighboring jurisdictions to improve approaches to campus has been put on hold. Cyclists have yet to see a single case where their interests have ranked higher than those of car drivers. We know full well that the path towards equitable bicycle access is not going to be easy, partly because it pitches UCLA cyclists against UCLA drivers. Nor has it escaped out attention that income from parking fees may stand in the way of effective bicycle encouragement. But we also know that no job is too hard or too difficult for the combined intellectual power and creativity of our campus. And who would doubt that the old-fashioned bicycle is about to re-assert itself as the perfect solution for much urban traffic. Let us therefore work together so that this campus can join those on the forefront of this movement. Those who have not properly understood the severity of the environmental crisis will say: Perhaps in New York, perhaps in Davis, but never in Los Angeles. Such attitudes discredit the entire UCLA community. They perpetuate the car-centric prejudices for which California was once famous. From Einstein to Ignarro and Boyer, smart people ride bikes, and this campus is full of smart people, who are waiting for your leadership. As a leader in the community, UCLA should actively embrace and support cycling staff and faculty, so that a well supported employee can become a role model for the student, because that student will never forget how well, or how badly, the university looked after its cyclists. Initial signatories of this letter include Louis Ignarro, Professor for Molecular and Medical Pharmacology, UCLA School of Medicine, 1998 Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology, Paul Boyer, Emeritus Professor for Chemistry and Biochemistry, 1997 Nobel Prize for Chemistry, 1998 UCLA Medal, Richard Abel, Michael J. Connell Professor of Law, Emeritus, UCLA School of Law


This petition is made possible by the UCLA Bicycle Academy. Only Staff, Faculty and Graduates of UCLA at valid signers for this cause. http://bicycleacademy.blogspot.com/


Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition www.la-bike.org UCLA Bicycle Coalition, A Student Group http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/group.phpgid=327559060312
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