UCLA Bicycle Academy


Congratulations, Gold Level Bicycle Friendly University!

Good stuff is happening on campus. The next stop: Platinum.

Now is a good time to survey some of the approaches to campus. Because on the roads to and from campus we really struggle to convince Bruins to leave the car at home. Connectivity for active modes is our weak point. The attitudes are in place, the desire to improve our communities has been established, the need to address the climate crisis which is burning only a few miles from Murphy  Hall is evident. All that is in place. But we need help. Help to work with our neighbors, help to facilitate the collaboration among our neighbors, help to address decades of car-centric infrastructure around UCLA. We need the Bike Fairy (him/her). Here are some examples:

1) Streetlight Down

A streetlight rests on the sidewalk at Sepulveda. The sole and unpaved sidewalk herewith fully blocked. Bruins will have to lift their bike over this obstacle. Wheel chair? Forget it! Who would dare to block a traffic lane for cars for a whole week? UCLA Bike Fairy (him/her) makes the call to have it removed, presto. Because pedestrians and cyclists are important for UCLA. Very. Very very.

2) Detour?

The unnamed CALTRANS bike path leading from the VA to Church Lane (and on to mountainous Montana Ave) is closed. UCLA Bike Fairy (he/she) calls the contacts at these agencies, questions, reminds, resolves, and re-opens this path for the benefit of our current and future bike commuters. And for the benefit of our planet. Because we simply can not afford to lose a single cycling Bruin. Indeed, we need to find many more.

3) Deadly Manhole cover on Veteran

Two mean manhole covers on Veteran and Wellworth. They are going to be chief witnesses in a million dollar legal case brought by an injury lawyer. The ignorance of the road maintenance crews who would sign off on such criminal workmanship beggars belief, but that is what we have to deal with here. (Attention Injury Lawyers: The office of the local councilmember has been informed) Who? Which fairy?

3b) UCLA Health Supports Active & Healthy Modes 

A recent study at UCLA Health Facilities found that 30 % of employees would consider a bicycle commute if incentives and secure parking for bikes was on offer. Bike Fairy (m/f) springs into action and makes sure that all UCLA Health locations offer secure bike parking and that leases for medical offices do not include bundled car parking. Bike Fairy may also facilitate a research project with UCLA Fielding School for Public Health to encourage patients riding their bike to their neighborhood clinic. Community Health Needs Assessments (CHNA) will include healthy transport programming. Because our hospitals and our health clinics know that cycling is healthy. For our communities and for our planet. And urgent.

4) Walk with Bike (WTF)

Planners sometimes made life difficult for cyclists. Whenever bicycle convenience was an obstacle to car convenience, they used cement to tell our riders to get off and to walk their bike. An ancient vestige of this attitude has been found on Sepulveda, on the official and advertised access route to campus. In large letters the sign commands: Walk with Bike.

The full height curb will force anybody to dismount. But the UCLA Bike Fairy (m/f) knows that the times of torturing cyclists is over. Bike Fairy will investigate, arrange for the removal of signage and amend this curb to its proper sunken state. And a new sign will go up: It will be straight. It will read: UCLA Welcomes Cyclists! Because UCLA does.

5) Yuck under the I-405

Roadways are cleaned weekly. Sidewalks less so. One of the most important sidewalks connecting Brentwood and Westwood – for those who do not drive – has not been cleaned for years. Fancy car ramps soar overhead, but down under pedestrians are treated to years (years!) of accumulated refuse, dust and excrement. Located under the freeway, some mid-ranking administrator has simply dropped the ball. The UCLA Bike-Fairy (him/her) will identify the responsible party, get this stretch onto the schedule of weekly cleaning, and help to make a nightmarish campus approach just a little less horrible. With a sidewalk neglected like this, how would you even dare to suggest that anybody walk or ride rather than drive? Yet less drive we must. Must.

6) Wilshire Center Picks a Fight with Cyclists

Wilshire Center, right at the intersection of Westwood and Wilshire, is a high-rise with many UCLA offices. If you have arrived at Wilshire Center, you have survived, by limb at least, one of the most dangerous intersections in the country. Now get ready for a “Not A Walkway” fight to access a few poor bike racks perversely placed, and over-regulated by someone who really tries to pick a fight with the most sustainable mode of transportation. The regulatory venom on display here is a kick in the head for any Bruin who would consider getting out of the car. It sign shouts out:

Go Away! We really do not want you here! 

Our Bike Fairy (Any pronoun) will make the call, investigate leases entered into, push to amend them, arrange for the removal of signage and provide for easy and welcoming and plentiful bike parking at Wilshire Center. Because we must! UCLA pays a lot of rent here, but Bruins on two wheels get the worst service. The sheer inequity of it.

7) Find the curb and hit your head

Bruins driving cars from Brentwood to Westwood have ten car lanes, lanes designed for speeds of 50 MPH or more. Bruins riding a bike to campus along the same route will soon enough make the acquaintance of a non-compliant street sign mounted so low, and located right at the sunken curb, that it must have caused many a concussion with cycling heads. Bike Fairy, please! Do something. Do we really need to call our Senator to get this sign out of the path of Bruin heads? 

8) Narrow Sidewalk / Bike Path: Just Add the Bus Stop 

Bruins taking the tree slalom sidewalk on Wilshire along the National Cemetery have a hard time managing pedestrians and these mid-path tree obstacles. Now a bus stop chicane has been added to the mix. Really? So there are ten high speed lanes for cars, and a narrow congested sidewalk for the rest. This is how they used to do it before the Bike Fairy (she/he) looked into it. Because we urgently need more space for sustainable and healthy modes around UCLA. The planet is burning. And our communities expect that UCLA and UCLA Health will speak out for a better future.

9) Bike Parking Rift Found on Kinross

Some Bruins drive their gas guzzler to campus. The combined weight and acceleration of these vehicles ruins the roadway, so much so that a rift has now opened on Kinross, large enough to securely place a bike into the slot which has appeared here. But woe if your bike wheels ever get stuck in this opening. The lack of road maintenance throughout the Westwood Village is a scandal, and it gravely affects sustainable modes of transportation. Calling Bike Fairy, environmental justice hero, to the rescue! 

10) Don’t go here between October and February

(image of Wilshire dark)

The I-405 widening project included community input, and UCLA was part of these conversations. But back then nobody invited the Bike Fairy to the table. This is why so much pedestrian and bicycle injustice has been cemented along Wilshire. Consider streetlights for the sidewalk. Missing. So for four months every year, when the sun sets before you go home, the walk and the ride along the VA becomes a hair-raising adventure in the dark. Blimey, we forgot to put in street-lights for the sidewalk. Blinded by fast moving cars, the sidewalk users are struggling to find their way. Is that even legal? What says the Bike Fairy?

11) UCLA Health Pathway

(image cover of report)

The project to create a improved bicycle connection between Santa Monica and Westwood hospitals is on life support. The project has been designed on paper, now the conversations with neighbors have to follow. With the help of the Bike Fairy, the Best in the West Hospitals we take full ownership of this project, and make sure it will be built. Because being in the health business gives you an keen awareness of the unhealthy consequences of our dominant transport modes. Unhealthy for people, unhealthy for planet.  

12) Only in Westwood

Imagine a world-class hospital where the main approach is without a bike lane. Imagine a world-class university where the main approach is without a bike lane. Is cycling not healthy and sustainable? Do we not all need to do much more of it? Without bike lanes? How then?  

The students have painted their own bike-lane here, but it was removed without delay. A great street, a great campus, a great hospital, all suffer from a lack of bicycle infrastructure on the main approach. Why is it still all about cars?


Bike Fairy to the rescue: Facilitating a committee of hospital leadership, campus leadership, public health experts, local stakeholders and neighborhood leadership, laying out the path to a safer Westwood, more equitable and more sustainable. Call it Paul Koretz Bike Lane if you want, but do [expletive deleted] paint it.
Sure, this is a big one. This is why our Bike Fairy that has the full support of UCLA Health and of the campus, this is why it can draw on the legal firepower of our Law School, and on the expertise from the hospital and from the Fielding School of Public Health. Yes we can. Yes we must.

13) Discouraging Cycling 

Last year, traffic planners in West LA turned a trickle of bicycle traffic headed for UCLA into a odd occasional drop. 
At Barrington & Goshen, a relatively quiet route to campus, a forced right turn sign has appeared last years. Bruins on two wheels who follow the signage will have to make a left turn at Wilshire & Barrington: A most hostile intersection for bikes. Can we please have a “Except Bicycles” addition to this signage? And can we please have the UCLA Bike Fairy (m/f) at the table when the regional traffic planners come up with ideas that simply do not help us to get more people out of cars? Why do so many minor planning decisions in the environs of our campus still point in the wrong direction, failing to make it easier, safer, simpler for the most sustainable street users we try to recruit? 

To remedy this, the Bike Fairy will also call on the support of experts from the UCLA School of Law, who are eager to help to make Los Angeles a sustainable, resilient, more equitable, more livable city. As our Executive Vice Chancellor Emily Carter said. 

x) Metro First & Last Mile 

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x) Greta and Arnold

Here is Greta Thunberg cycling in Santa Monica. In a few years she may apply at UCLA. It is high time to get our bicycle infrastructure into shape: For this prospective student, and for everybody else. Luckily, we have the Bike Fairy (him/her). Arnold is on standby to help in real difficult cases. So that we can “help LA to become the city it should be, the city of the 21st century, an opportunity unlike any other on this planet that UCLA should seize.” As our Executive Vice Chancellor Emily Carter said.

What Bike Fairy? 

Not a genuine likeness

The Bike Fairy comes about through the joint commitment of UCLA Health Leadership (Johnese Spisso), UCLA leadership (Emily Carter), and Associate Vice chancellor for Government and Community Relations. (Jennifer Poulakidas). It is a production of the UCLA Sustainability Committee under the leadership of Vice Chancellor of Facilities, Michael Beck. The godparents come from the School of Law (Environmental Law), the Institute of the Environment, and the Fielding School of Public Health. Together they fund and task the Bike Fairy (him/her) to revert decades of car-centric infrastructure around UCLA. Adept in facilitating close interactions with a large number of jurisdictions and administrations in the neighborhood of the campus, the UCLA Bike Fairy fills a glaring hole in how the UCLA Health and the Campus relate with our communities. These are some of the agencies involved: The National Cemetery Administration, the Veterans Administration, the Veterans Hospital, the cities of Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Culver City, Metro, Caltrans, transit companies, neighborhood stakeholders, etc. The Bike Fairy will convene and advance a consistent agenda with a variety of stakeholders who for too long have heard far too little from the campus and from UCLA Health. The Hospital and the Campus need to take the lead in these conversations, because as a world class hospital and university in an urban context, it simply is our civic obligation. If we don’t show leadership here, well beyond the safe walls of our campus, all campus talk of sustainability will remain hollow and fake.

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