Earlier this month, the UC Davis Police Department (UCDPD) added 11 new bicycle cop positions to current force members, increasing the number of bike cops on campus.
Ironically, this move was made to better community relations between campus members and the police by increasing the direct contact people share with officers — a likely response to the Nov. 18 pepper-spraying incident. Furthermore, the new bike cops will continue to promote bike safety, which will ultimately reduce the number of citations.
While more cops will unquestionably be annoying, what this really means is all bikers will have to be a little more cautious when it comes to riding around campus. More bike cops means a higher chance of getting caught after you roll through a stop sign or while biking without a light.
The UCDPD has stressed bike safety with its warning-first policy and the educational program individuals can participate in to reduce fines. This is good and should continue. As long as the new bike cops are respectful and focus on promoting education, life on campus shouldn’t change too much. Furthermore, we hope the officers have learned something from the past few months and respect the students’ desire for an unarmed police force.
The easiest way to make UC Davis a safe biking campus is for all riders to make sure they know how to ride a bike. Too many accidents are caused by individuals who are not experienced in manning a two-wheeled moving apparatus. These inexperienced individuals are usually so worried about not falling that they develop tunnel vision and ignore their surroundings, causing accidents and unsafe biking conditions.
Obviously, the UCDPD can’t force people to learn how to ride a bike. There’s only so much a citation or mandatory online training can do. Like driving a car, individuals need to get on the road and practice in a safe environment that isn’t Hutchison Drive at one o’clock in the afternoon on a Monday.
So, if you’re thinking about breaking out that new beachcruiser with handlebars as wide as the bike lane for your first ride to campus, think again. Perhaps walking is a better option.