Bicycle battle brewing at UC-Berkeley

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How would you feel if a simple parking violation resulted in a ticket that surpassed the cost of your car?

That's what bicyclists at the University of California at Berkeley are asking in the wake of a crackdown on bicycle violations by campus police.

So far this semester, police have issued 103 citations, a 41% increase over the same period last year. What's really frosting the students, however, is that the infractions cost $220 each, which is more than the cost of some of the beater bikes these college students ride.

Dismount, parking

Some of the violations involve riding, instead of walking, their bicycles through a dismount zone or locking a bicycle to a railing, instead of a bike rack.

At the BikeBusters Facebook page created to organize against crackdown, the author writes:

“It does not seem just nor ethical that the UC and affiliated institutions should exploit their power and position against those who are suffering as much- if not more- from these financially challenging times.”

Student costs at the university system are going up as funding from the state goes down.


The Los Angeles Times reports that bicyclists are urged to challenge the tickets, maintaining that an age-old state law banning unauthorized parking of vehicles or “animals” on university property doesn't apply to bicycles.

Also, a Berkeley city councilman, Kris Worthington, is pushing the university to relax its “dismount” policy to enable bicyclists to more easily get to their destinations. The $220 parking fine is “insane,” he told the Times, especially considering a automobile parking ticket in the city costs $46.

The students also are upset by the lack of bike racks, and restrictions banning bicycles from locking up at many other locations. One new student locked his bicycle at a railing with some other bicycles, only to find it later locked down by police who wrote him a $220 ticket.

Bicycle friendly

Bicycles are a great form of transportation, especially in a college town. An educational institution should accommodate people who use bikes to commute, as it's a good habit that might continue in later life.

Maybe UC-Berkeley would benefit by checking out the League of American Bicyclists new program to honor Bicycle Friendly Universities.

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