Bike debate rolls on

The debate over a proposal to ban bicycles altogether from the Chico State University campus core appears to be moving on a smoother path.

A bicycle policy subcommittee met with members of the University Transportation Committee (UTC) on Dec. 13 to discuss new recommendations regarding the proposal.

The five-member subcommittee was appointed by University Police Chief Leslie Deniz to prepare a recommendation regarding proposed changes to be considered by the UTC.

The new recommendations are in response to a University Police Department proposal made at the Sept. 1 UTC meeting suggesting that bicycle use within the campus core be restricted 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The proposal also called for expanding the campus core to include Normal, Chestnut, Hazel and First streets as well as placing bike racks in designated areas along the outer perimeter of the expanded core.

Annie Sherman, commissioner of environmental affairs for the Associated Students and a subcommittee member, said University Police never produced sufficient data to support the proposal.

“If you’re going to make a proposal that drastic, you need to base it on facts, not gossip or conversation,” Sherman said.

The subcommittee’s new recommendations propose that regulations be changed to prohibit riding in the campus core between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and that bicyclists be allowed to ride there at all times on weekends.

“If you’ve been on this campus on the weekend, I would call it roughly deserted,” said Brian Oppy, a psychology professor and subcommittee member.

The committee also recommends that expansion of the campus core be delayed until the overall design for renovation is complete and that new signage be placed on campus.

Many of the recommendations mirrored those outlined in Oppy’s alternate proposal at the Dec. 6 subcommittee meeting.

Oppy made an alternate proposal that called for improved signage across campus, covered bike racks and that university police give warnings before issuing citations. Oppy’s alternate proposal also suggested marking bike lanes on First Street and opening the stretch of roadway behind Holt Hall to create easier access to heavily used bike racks on the south side of the building.

He said the purpose of the subcommittee recommendation draft is to address safety issues while satisfying student and police concerns and that he believes things are moving in a reasonable direction.

“My expectation is that the full contents of that draft will make it to the transportation committee,” Oppy said.

Oppy said the only issue the UTC might have is with the campus being open to bicyclists 24 hours a day on weekends because of the disruption of weekend events.

He said the bigger issue, however, is creating a campus that is sustainable and encourages the use of alternate transportation, including bicycles, while promoting safety for bicyclists and pedestrians.

He added that the university should be "forward thinking" in its effort to become sustainable. "If you want to be a green campus," Oppy said, "you can’t solely depend on these oil-burning, gas-guzzling monsters we call cars."