“In choosing to cross the invisible barrier of the Dismount Zone, one enters into a territory guarded by the UCPD. As you cycle into the sea of sharks, be ever vigilant of the blinding shine of the dreaded police badge…”
These are the words spoken by UC Berkeley third year Julian King, who regularly bikes to campus. King’s warnings were frequently repeated by other bicyclists I interviewed on Nov. 24 around noon, the peak time of foot and bicycle traffic at Sproul Plaza.
According to first-year Anja Wittels, there definitely is not enough signage to warn bicyclists of a dismount zone.
“I’ve been yelled at,” she admitted. “But I don’t understand why I can’t ride my bicycle on Sproul. It’s the quickest way to get to class.”
Asked about whether he’s gotten tickets for disregarding bicycling rules, junior Wesley Borja responded that he’s just gotten lucky and learned about the rules only by watching everyone else.
“The dismount signs are not all that clear,” he said. “And bikes fit perfectly between the posts that mark the start of the Dismount Zone.”
Freshman Evan Warfel believes that the bicycle rules are not at all hard to follow. He said that his roommate’s mother had told him about the bicycling rules, and that he looked up the Dismount Zone on a map on the UCPD website.
“The blue signs (of the Dismount Zone) are pretty clear,” he said. “But some of the signs on the ground could definitely be repainted.”
Senior Howard Lo objects, pointing out that the UCPD should issue more warnings in order to educate bicyclists instead of ticketing them on the spot.
Despite many students’ belief that the Dismount Zones are poorly publicized, UC Berkeley alumni Norman Laburee, a political science and history researcher, applauds students for their efforts to follow the bicycling rules on campus.
“As a bicyclist since 1980, I want to stress the importance of responsible riding. Although there is definitely room for improving knowledge of certain bicycle rules, I think that the students are doing a good job overall.”