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Comprehensive bicycle plan being developed for campus

STANFORD -- Officials from three Stanford University departments have joined forces to develop a comprehensive plan to make bicycling easier and safer on the campus.

With about 17,000 bicycles on campus - at times, seemingly all in use at the same time on the same street - bicycles outnumber cars by a nearly two-to-one ratio. However, most campus circulation planning efforts to date have focused primarily on automobiles and pedestrians, said Jeffrey Tumlin of the office of Transportation Programs.

Now, Transportation Programs, the Planning Office and the Department of Public Safety (which includes the Stanford Police Department) are collaborating on a universitywide bicycle plan.

Charles Carter of the Planning Office said the initial proposal, drawn up in late March, "will lead to the development of facilities for bicycle circulation and parking, along with programs for the management of bicycles for safety and security."

Dan Smith of the Stanford Police said that last year, there were almost 700 reported bicycle thefts on campus, and about 70 "pretty serious" accidents involving bikes.

"Both of those numbers are unacceptable," Smith said.

Community input sought

The first step in developing a new plan will be for an outside consultant to look closely at Stanford's situation, and to identify what is working and what isn't, Tumlin said.

"We'll need a lot of input from the community at that point," Tumlin said.

Tumlin is putting together a Stanford Bicycle Advisory Committee to work with the consultant in drawing up the new plan, and then to make sure it is properly implemented.

"We need people who have a campuswide interest in bicycles," Tumlin said. "That includes bicycle commuters, resident students, and people from the Medical Center and other areas outside the central campus.

"I want people who are real activists, and who are willing to learn the details of transportation planning and engineering," he said.

The architects of the new plan hope to have it ready by the start of the next academic year. The period of public input, through open meetings and workshops, is scheduled for May 1-June 1, with the plan to be fully written and delivered by Aug. 15.

(Anyone who is interested in joining the advisory committee should contact Tumlin at 723-9362, or send an e-mail message to jeffrey.tumlin@forsythe.)

Plan likely to include physical, program improvements

The plan probably will call for dramatic improvements in both the quality and number of bicycle parking facilities on campus. Circulation improvements might include more bicycle routes and paths, better connections to surrounding communities, and attempts to get bikes off side-paths and onto roadways.

The plan could also include new building specifications that call for minimum bicycle parking requirements, and showers and lockers in buildings for commuters.

"If there are any design and program improvements we can make to encourage commuters to bicycle instead of drive to work, we can save a lot of money," Tumlin said.

New parking structures for cars cost about $12,000 per space, while high-quality bicycle parking costs as little as $100 per space and takes up about one-sixth as much real estate.

Some suggested improvements range from the obvious (meeting the demand for secure bicycle parking) to the borderline exotic (offering free dry-cleaning delivery, when necessary, to bike commuters).

"We'll be looking at pressurized air stations around campus, at self-renting bikes for intra-campus errands, traffic circles at the Clock Tower and White Plaza - everything we can think of," Tumlin said.

Scofflaws beware

Another major effort will be in the area of enforcement.

"At UC-Davis, cyclists ride on the right side of the road, don't block building access, and even stop at busy intersections," Smith said. "It's a different world.

"They have more bikes than we do, but lower theft and accident rates. If we provide good facilities for bikes, along with education and strong enforcement, we can have even better success at Stanford."

To get the plan off the ground, Carter has asked that funding for the bicycle program be increased, and paid for either directly or indirectly through the building program. Building projects often include, within their scope, bike parking sufficient to meet the need generated by the new facilities. Building projects also contribute a percentage of construction costs to a General Plant Improvement Program, which funds "public works" such as paths, lighting, roads and bicycle parking. Funding for the bike safety and management programs comes from auto parking- permit sales.



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