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February 24, 1997

UCSC prepares to implement new policy designating areas for off-road bike riding

By Jim Burns

A new policy that limits off-road bicycle riding to designated areas on the UCSC campus is expected to be implemented during the upcoming spring quarter. In order to communicate the specifics of the new policy, campus officials have scheduled a public workshop for Tuesday, March 4.

The workshop will take place from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Performing Arts Second Stage (formerly called the Performing Arts Concert Hall).

A campus committee has recommended that, with few exceptions, off-road riding in the undeveloped areas of the 2,000-acre campus be confined to UCSC's network of fire roads and other so-called "double-track" pathways. Riding on narrower single-track dirt paths will be prohibited when the new policy is implemented.

The recommendations for implementing the off-road policy are expected to be forwarded to Thomas Vani, UCSC's vice chancellor for Business and Administrative Services, for final approval early in the spring quarter.

"The purpose of this workshop is to discuss the new policy with members of the local mountain biking community--and to make sure they know the areas of the campus in which riding will be either permitted or prohibited," says Larry Pageler, director of Transportation and Parking Services at UCSC. "We also want to solicit their ideas on spreading the word to other riders from inside and outside of Santa Cruz County who use the undeveloped areas of the campus for off-road biking," Pageler says.

The new campus policy designating areas for off-road bicycling was endorsed last October by the Campus Land Use Management Advisory Committee and its faculty, staff, and student representatives. Before that, the policy was technically more restrictive. "Officially, riding had been limited to paved surfaces only," Pageler says.

With the advent of the mountain bike, campus officials--concerned about the safety of riders, the liability of the university, the maintenance of dirt roads, and the protection of environmentally sensitive campus lands--decided to rethink the old policy. "The goal in developing the new policy was to strike a compromise," Pageler says. "We would designate specific off-road areas for mountain bikes, thereby protecting other more environmentally sensitive campus lands from the destruction that off-road riding can cause."

The designated areas were identified by an ad-hoc committee comprised of representatives of the following campus units: Transportation and Parking Services, Buildings and Grounds, the Natural Reserve, and the Police. The work was done in consultation with the Campus Land Use Management Advisory Committee.

Pageler says no specific date in the spring quarter has been set for implementing the new bike policy. "We want to make sure that we have posted all of the necessary signs so that no one unknowingly is riding in areas that are off limits to riders."

He also says campus personnel will regularly revisit the designations. "If we find that we are able to open up additional off-road areas to riders, we will certainly do that," Pageler says. "Conversely, if off-road areas designated for cyclists become unsafe or unsuitable for riding for other reasons, we will close those areas."

The designations may also need to be altered when Gray Whale Ranch State Park opens to the public--and bicycle use--later this year, Pageler says. "With the Gray Whale Ranch opening adjacent to UCSC, interest in the campus among cyclists is expected to increase."

With those changes, it will be even more critical then that cyclists know where they can--and can't--ride at UCSC, Pageler says.

For additional information on the new UCSC policy, call the Transportation and Parking Services Office at (408) 459-2190.

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