Letter on new UCSD campus policy on micromobility devices

Dear Vice Chancellor Matthews,

We appreciate the opportunity to provide feedback on UCSD’s proposed campus policy on the use of micromobility devices, announced on November 5, 2019 [1]. The policy would establish several new rules and regulations regarding the operation of scooters, bicycles, and other small devices on UCSD campus. The need to create a safe environment for all members of the campus community and UCSD visitors is clear: with expected growth reaching 65,000-plus students, staff and faculty, getting into and around campus will be increasing complex. This policy represents an important opportunity to set expectations of campus users — through commonsense stipulations such as being able to operate safely under different conditions and yielding right of way to pedestrians — but could be expanded to help address many underlying issues that result in conflicts on a daily basis.

First, well-recognized principles of urban infrastructure design inform us that providing safe facilities where people want to walk and ride is vastly more effective and equitable than outlawing and diverting these modes [2]. Modern urban transportation plans thus aim to provide balance among the various uses of public roadways, and in particular separate traffic moving at vastly different speeds, such as through the use of off-street paths and protected bicycle lanes. Currently, UCSD campus facilities do not provide a level of ease of circulation for people regardless of whether they are walking, riding or biking. Most destinations are not connected by bike paths where riders can avoid mingling with pedestrians, and main desire lines either prohibit riding or are shared use without any signed or designated areas for riders. Construction activity throughout campus is not fully mitigated, leaving narrower and less convenient paths for everyone. We therefore urge the administration to adopt proactive infrastructural approaches to provide physical and/or marked separation between pedestrian and micromobility modes on campus, facilitating all desire lines.

Second, due to the sprawling footprint of campus, entry points via public transit are far from many campus destinations. While parking is a perennial complaint, it remains the case that most buildings have parking options within five minutes walk, while bus stops of high-volume routes can be 15 or more minutes away. As the growing community opts to take public transit, using micromobility to and from these entry points will be increasingly attractive, adding to the complexities with enforcing restrictions on their use. The trolley extension will only intensity this conflict: the nearest stop to The Village dormitory, Pepper Canyon, will be more than 25 minutes away. We propose that safe and convenient paths for micromobility are established from all existing and future transit entry points to all major campus destinations, taking advantage of both perimeter and throughcampus routes. 

Finally, major roads surrounding campus for the most part lack adequate facilities for micromobility users. Genesee Ave, Gilman Drive, and N. Torrey Pines Road, among others, have dangerous, unprotected lanes next to fast-moving traffic. The UTC area, where a large fraction of off-campus students live, is only two miles from campus and yet lacks safe routes to get to class. In spite of these drawbacks, the University community sees rates of bicycle use over two times the city and county of San Diego [2]. This need must be met with sustained support and encouragement for people to leave their cars at home when commuting to campus. Best practice for roads with speeds regularly exceeding 25 mph and 6000 cars per day is to establish protected bicycle lanes with vertical barriers or raised elevation from motor vehicle traffic [3]. We urge UCSD to work with the City of San Diego and SANDAG to create safe, protected micromobility routes for all ages and abilities to all destinations within at least two miles of campus. 

Let us reiterate that we strongly support ensuring the safety of all people traveling around campus. We believe this can be done in a non-punitive manner that creates and reinforces a welcoming environment for everyone to commute to and around campus via a range of alternative transportation modes. We look forward to working with you to achieve this vision. 


Michael Davidson, Assistant Professor, UC San Diego
Paul Jamason, IT Services, UC San Diego; Board Member, BikeSD

On behalf of BikeSD, an independent, non-governmental, nonprofit advocacy organization. Our mission: To establish San Diego as a world-class bicycling city and create a more livable urban community by promoting everyday riding and advocating for bicycling infrastructure. https://bikesd.org/ 



[1]: “Proposed Addition to UC San Diego Policy and Procedure Manual (PPM).” November 2019. UC San Diego. http://adminrecords.ucsd.edu/ppm/micromobility.html

[2]: Toole, Jennifer, & Bettina Zimny. “Transportation Planning Handbook, Ch. 16: Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities.” Federal Highway Administration, US Department of Transportation, Washington, DC. https://nacto.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Transportation-Planning-Handbook-Bicycle-and-Pedestrian-Facilities.pdf

[3]: University Community Plan Update: Existing Conditions Summary. April 2018. City of San Diego. https://www.sandiego.gov/sites/default/files/final_university_cpu_ecr_report.pdf

[4]: Designing for All Ages & Abilities: Contextual Guidance for High-Comfort Bicycle Facilities. December 2017. National Association of City Transportation Officials. https://nacto.org/wpcontent/uploads/2017/12/NACTO_Designing-for-All-Ages-Abilities.pdf