Commuting on a bicycle changes your perspective. Everywhere you go, you recognize the lack of safe road space on which to ride and you constantly wonder, “why hasn’t anyone thought about putting a bike lane here?” Case in point: the campus where I teach, Cal Poly Pomona, has a number of access roads to the main campus, including Campus Dr., University Dr., and Kellogg Dr. (shown above). None of the three roads have bike lanes, though there is space for them on all three. These roads also provide the main access between the main campus and dormitories and bus stops on Temple Ave. Providing safe bike lanes on these access roads would benefit those using bikes and public transportation—two modes of travel the University should encourage in order to reduce its carbon footprint. As gas prices rise, students particularly feel the economic pinch. Shouldn’t we do simple things like install bike lanes to make sure they have an alternative to the automobile?
In addition to bike lanes, other traffic calming strategies should be employed, insofar as many drivers reach speeds upwards of 45 mph on these roads (the posted speed limits are lower, but there is little traffic speed enforcement on these roads, and the wide lanes and lack of stop signs implicitly encourage speeding). Near collisions are a regular occurrence, as I witnessed one recent weekday when a car traveling an estimated 40-plus mph nearly missed another car making a left turn in its path (see photo below). The high speeds understandably deter people from bicycling on these roads, despite the fact that they are the most convenient routes to the main campus.
Road diets and stop signs could go a long way toward making these roads safer by slowing automobile traffic. The extra 60-or so seconds of commute time would not unduly inconvenience commuters, and the road diet would provide plenty of space for bike lanes on these access roads. It would also demonstrate a tangible effort to reduce the number one cause of the campus’s carbon emissions: automobile traffic to and from the campus.
Cal Poly has made an admirable effort the past few years to reduce its carbon footprint through energy efficiency in its buildings and operations. Cal Poly Pomona is home to the renowned Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies, and its College of Environmental Design is filled with faculty doing cutting edge work on sustainability. Cal Poly President J. Michael Ortiz has spearheaded an innovative campus climate commitment program. Environmental awareness and a sense of environmental responsibility are high among the student body. But the elephant in the room is the campus’s continued prioritization of automobile travel through expensive, multi-story automobile parking facilities and high-speed roads that provide no safe space for alternative modes of travel. In order to begin to reduce this elephant’s carbon footprint, we need traffic calming and bike lanes.