Students were greeted by a few changes to the highways and byways throughout campus upon returning for the new semester. The beautifully repainted permanent bike lane on Campanile Walkway is a long-awaited triumph. And the new perpendicular route, running from 55th Street, across Campanile Drive and west to the San Diego State trolley station is also a nice surprise. Incoming freshmen and transfer students plying the walkways of campus for the first time should appreciate this shift away from SDSU’s historic “no wheels” policy.
Making our school more bicycle-accessible is an important coup d’état. Encouraging biking to school reduces traffic and parking congestion. I’m sure many of you are still recovering from the nightmare that is parking on the first week of classes. Biking also allows students to save whatever precious little cash remains after textbook costs by avoiding parking permit and gas fees. Most importantly, it promotes a cleaner campus environment and more sustainable lifestyle. Not to mention it makes life a heck of a lot easier for students traveling sans cars.
This isn’t to say there aren’t a few kinks still to be worked out. While the benefits far outweigh the risks, I can understand the administration’s initial hesitance stemming from walkway congestion and safety concerns. Pedestrians tend to stroll obliviously down the bike lane, ignorant of their perils. I’m sure this is purely an issue of new students and unfamiliarity with the bike lane. Time, and perhaps a few painful incidents, will teach everyone to steer clear. In the meantime, it would seem prudent to provide a few more signs to caution students and keep collisions to a minimum. And the large concrete obstacles periodically blocking half the bike path are an accident waiting to happen.
It’s easy to imagine a cyclist distracted by dodging pedestrians ending up with a scar or two. I hope SDSU would be quick to remove such a liability. Another issue still to be worked out with the new bike system is the shortage of conveniently located bike racks. A few more racks strategically placed between bike paths and classrooms would be an easy fix.
Despite these unresolved issues, the addition to campus is a huge step in the right direction and an affirmation of student agency at SDSU. Change did not come out of the blue. It was the result of a hard-fought campaign. A series of critical mass-like bike rallies protested the strict “no wheels” policy on campus until Associated Students and university administration took notice. I would like to express my gratitude to all student activists, A.S. officials and SDSU administrators who made the bike lane possible. To continue the spirit of engagement and activism on campus, we should ensure the bike system is maintained and possibly even expanded if all goes well.
Above all, I am proud that students were able to achieve positive change by popular demand. This is exactly what the student government system is in place for. It’s easy to slip into a subordinate role as a student, forgetting that the university is here to serve us and that it’s our privilege and responsibility to take the reins of our college experience.
—Randy Wilde is an ISCOR senior.