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Editorial: UCLA Dismount Zone policy overlooks crucial aspects

By Daily Bruin Staff

Oct. 14, 2009 11:33 p.m.

Before university police started enforcing the new Dismount Zone policy, a white bike lane was anonymously chalked from De Neve Drive to the College Library. Smudged by foot traffic, chalk print down the cement hill read, “Resist the dismount!” among other phrases of protest.

On Tuesday, university police began enforcing the Dismount Zone policy, prohibiting bikers, skaters, and scooter users from traveling the campus within three specific areas. The consequence for a violation? A $202 citation.

UCPD’s concerns for campus safety are well-founded and commendable. Commuters thundering down Bruin Walk during the morning rush to class are unsafe to both themselves and surrounding pedestrians. Accidents and complaints are the result of a lack of regulation.

Our campus is not conducive to biking, with an abundance of hills and narrow walking paths. Coupled with this is the fact that UCLA is the most densely populated UC campus, with approximately 40,000 people in a 419-acre space. While we do not mean to dissuade people from alternate modes of transportation, we understand the necessity for regulation, particularly during peak commuting hours.

With that said, the policy is reasonable in that it seems to be looking out for the wider community’s best interests ““ but is unreasonable because it fails to take into account some crucial aspects of the issue.

A $202 fee is an inordinate penalty. This is a burdening amount to students who do not yet have a stable source of income. While we are not advocating a lower penalty as a means of weakening deterrence, we believe that fees must be reasonable in proportion to their offenses.

The current amount is comparable to and even greater than certain penalties for vehicular offenses. For example, the citation for texting while driving for first-time offenders is $20.

While we appreciate UCPD’s concern for campus safety, the policy overlooks the safety and convenience of commuters. Alternate routes should be drafted to discourage riders from taking more dangerous paths and to streamline the flow of traffic.

Various sections of campus are not as pedestrian-heavy as Bruin Walk, and these are options that must be looked into. Designated areas for bikers will decrease the likelihood that accidents might result from potentially reckless efforts to circumvent the new regulation.

The policy should also be amended to only restrict students during peak commuting hours, allowing people to bike, skate or blade when foot-traffic is minimal.

Many students may feel uncomfortable walking through campus at late night or early morning hours. Those who are on campus at night should be allowed to commute to and from campus in the swiftest way possible. The campus is also lit well enough for people to ride safely and avoid accidents.

Finally, this board would like to see increased publicity on behalf of UCPD to inform students of the new regulation before citations are issued.

We are advocates for cyclists and skateboarders and think that, though the implemented measure is necessary, it is not effective in improving student safety while encouraging alternate modes of transportation.

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