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Bike to Campus Week sets up pit stops around campus

Bike pit stop

Today, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Ackerman Turnaround

By Anaika Miller

May 16, 2013 1:12 p.m.

Annelie Rugg bikes 22 miles from her home in the San Fernando Valley to her job at UCLA.

Despite the distance and 90-minute ride, Rugg said she enjoys the commute because it is environmentally friendly and has brought her closer to the L.A. community.

“(Cycling) does take more time … but the reduction in stress is noticeable,” Rugg said.

This week, UCLA Transportation is encouraging others to adopt commuting styles like Rugg’s by hosting the fifth annual Bike to Campus Week.

In a partnership with UCLA Recreation and Metro, UCLA Transportation has set up various pit stops around campus with free food, bike paraphernalia and bike tune-ups for cyclists. The week’s activities will culminate with Bike Night at the Hammer Museum on Friday night.

The week is designed to support the biking community on campus and encourage other members of the UCLA community to start using bikes instead of cars, said Dave Karwaski, planning and policy manager for UCLA Transportation.

Rugg, who is the director of humanities at UCLA’s Center for Digital Humanities, attended the pit stop on Wednesday morning and grabbed a free patch kit, protein bar, UCLA BIKE sticker and some tire levers.

Rugg began cycling instead of rowing, a sport she competed in while at school, after graduating from Dartmouth College in 1986. In the late 1980s, Rugg became hooked on cycling after her boyfriend at the time took her on a 25-mile bike ride.

Although she stopped racing in 2001, Rugg continues to cycle. She said she thinks Bike to Campus Week is an important reminder that cycling is acceptable and even a preferable mode of transportation to driving cars.

“We all need to be reminded to get out of our routines and try something different, even if it’s just once,” Rugg said.

Herbert Serrano, who works for Associated Students UCLA, was one of many cyclists who had their bike serviced at the pit stop on Tuesday.

In honor of Bike to Campus Week, he said he rode his bike to his bus stop for the first time.

“The more people that are on bikes the more pedestrians and drivers will be aware of them, which makes it safer for everyone,” Serrano said.

UCLA is not alone in encouraging biking – there have been many changes in the greater Los Angeles area to accommodate bicyclists.

“Drivers haven’t gotten more hostile, which is nice,” Rugg said with a laugh. “There’s been moderate improvements in accommodations for bicyclists.”

Rugg uses a 14-mile bike path, which was constructed in the San Fernando Valley a few years ago, for her cummute to campus.

Last fall, UCLA Transportation added its first on-campus bike lane, Karwaski said. He added that Transportation has installed more bike racks and doubled the bike parking capacity at UCLA and hopes to add more bike lanes over the summer.

To encourage people to use alternative modes of transport, UCLA Transportation also offers reduced bus fare and showers in the John Wooden Center for cyclists, Rugg said.

“It makes me feel like the university recognizes that people other than drivers exist and have needs,” Rugg said.

Karwaski said he believes these efforts have created a better environment for cyclists. In the past seven years, the number of cyclists on campus has almost tripled from about 800 to more than 2,000.

Despite the improvements, Rugg said UCLA should consider building a bike lane through the center of the campus to be even more bike-friendly.

Portions of Bruin Walk are designated as dismount zones, which means people cannot use anything with wheels on them. UCLA has said the zones are intended to increase the safety of pedestrians.

“Currently, we are forced to dismount in most campus-internal spaces, and it feels inconvenient and marginalized to have to ride completely around campus to get from one side to the other,” Rugg said.

Rugg acknowledges her commute isn’t for everyone, but thinks people should try cycling if they can, she said.

“I’m known for being an extreme commuter, but you don’t have to be,” Rugg said. “You just need to be able to ride a bike.”

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