Berkeley - In an effort to improve pedestrian safety on the Berkeley campus, the University of California Police Department announced today (Thursday, Sept. 27) that it will kick off a new Bicycle Education Safety Training program.
Starting Monday, Oct. 1, patrol officers will begin issuing citations to bicyclists, skateboarders, rollerbladers and people on scooters who roll through pedestrian-only areas on campus. The dismount zones - in effect from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays - include Sproul and Dwinelle plazas on the south side of campus.
The number of anecdotal reports of high-speed bicycle riding and close calls with pedestrians on campus have increased over the past few years, said Lt. Adan Tejada, who is heading up the program. The police department worked with members of the Campus Bicycle Subcommittee to improve the program. The goal of the campaign is to make the campus a safer place for everyone, said Tejada.
Those who receive tickets will be encouraged to attend a one-hour bicycle safety training class at the campus police station in Room 1 of Sproul Hall. There will be a $10 registration fee to attend the class, which will be offered from 3 to 4 p.m. on varying days of the week.
In the past, violators were issued $106 citations and did not have the option of attending a safety class. "That made us (officers) reluctant to get real aggressive with enforcement because we don't want to hit people with huge tickets," said Tejada. Giving people the choice of attending the safety classes in lieu of paying the hefty fine enables officers to focus on modifying behavior rather than punishing violators, he said.
Violators who choose not to attend the class can request a reduced bail of $28 from Parking & Transportation within 15 days of the ticket issue date. After 15 days, violators will be fined the full $106.
UC police officers have been stepping up their effort to highlight bicycle and pedestrian safety on campus for the past six weeks. In addition to placing 10 18-inch by 24-inch signs marking bicycle dismount zones on campus, officers have been giving verbal warnings to bicyclists riding in restricted areas. They also started issuing written warnings this week.
"We're trying to get people to focus on being respectful," he said. "Most bicyclists understand what it means to be a pedestrian. They understand that when it's a human body versus a metal bike, the human body is going to lose."