As a result of complaints, injuries and decreased overall campus safety, Transportation and Parking Services (TAPS), the UC Davis Police Department and the superior court in Woodland, have decided to start the Bicycle Education and Enforcement Program at UC Davis.
Officially launched on Oct. 10, the program strives to increase education, enforcement and infrastructure. Citations were first issued Oct. 17.
“There is an education and enforcement emphasis. The Bike Education and Enforcement Program was developed to help the students and the police,” said UC Davis Police Chief Annette Spicuzza.
In an effort to decrease the monetary burden of tickets for students, which can cost $200 to $225, and to allow the police to properly enforce bike laws, TAPS and the UC Davis Police Department have created an agreement with the Yolo County Superior court.
If a bicyclist receives a citation, they will be expected to watch a 22-minute video, complete an estimated 20-minute, 50 question quiz and pay $70. After, the student will be dismissed, with their citation waived.
“We anticipate success. All of the money will stay on campus to support the program, rather than going to the court,” said Director of TAPS Cliff Contreras .
Previously, the police department felt guilty about giving a college student an expensive bicycling citation. The new program will allow the laws to be properly enforced, without burdening the students.
“As a bike officer, and seeing violations occur, it is a safety issue. I have seen head-on collisions, concussions, front teeth knocked out, cuts on heads and faces, broken ankles and dislocated shoulders. Being able to enforce the laws and not feel bad about fines means more enforcement and education,” said UC Davis police officer, Ralph Nuno.
The most common bicycling violations are not stopping at stop signs, failing to yield to pedestrians and riding with two ear buds in. These result in decreased safety on the UC Davis campus. Bike accidents and injuries are the direct consequence of violating bike laws, according to Nuno.
Nuno, the single bike patrol officer on campus, issued 400 warnings during the first six months of 2011. These were the result of any violations, with the exception of biking under the influence, texting and riding with no hands on the handlebars.
“Through the education program, bicyclists will pay more attention to rules. As human beings, when we see someone being more courteous, we will follow suit,” Nuno said.
Though a mere two weeks old, the BEEProgram has already been put to the test.
“As of last week, three tickets were issued. Two of them immediately went online, passed the test and were all done. They have a full two weeks to take the test, pay $70 and have the citation waived,” Spicuzza said.
The Yolo Country Superior court was so supportive of the BEEProgram proposal that they wanted to implement the program county wide, according to Contreras.
However, it was decided that it would be more effective and courteous to slowly launch this new program, and test it on campus, before branching out.
Currently, 47 percent of the UC Davis student population has chosen to bike as their primary mode of transportation. With so many bicyclists, it is necessary to maintain a bicycling safety.
“The BEEProgram will create a safer environment to ride bikes in a safer way. We hope to encourage and incentivize people to bike instead of drive,” Contreras said.
Bicyclists are encouraged to follow the speed limit, use hand signals and be visible at night, while also abiding by laws of bicycling.
Directors of the BEEProgram are looking to a reduced carbon footprint, lowered emission level and a decreased cost of parking for students. The hope is that the undergraduates, and the 5,000 incoming first-year students will learn to be safer on bikes.
DANIELLE HUDDLESTUN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.