Bicycles are everywhere on the Orange Coast College campus, but there are very few regulations on their use.
Unlike skateboarding, which is banned on campus, it’s up to Campus Safety officers to decide what’s considered safe and acceptable riding.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s allowed or not — if somebody is riding in a manner that’s unsafe for the student population the security people are going to tell them to slow down or knock it off, or get off the campus,” Chief of Campus Safety John Farmer said.
He added that he doesn’t remember any instances of Campus Safety officers stopping someone for riding a bike in an unacceptable way.
“I don’t remember the last time anyone complained about a person on a bike and I’ve been here 28 years now,” Farmer said.
He mentioned that once in a while Campus Safety gets a call about a bike that’s been locked to an area it’s not supposed to be locked to, like the handrail of a stairwell.
Usually a note is left on the bike telling the owner not to lock it there next time.
If it sits there for a while, the lock can be cut and the bike will be taken to the ASOCC lost and found.
“Biking on campus is pretty chill, like people are accepting of bikes and don’t get in your way, so it’s fun,” Kebur Lulseged, a 19-year-old electrical engineering major and avid OCC biker said. “I haven’t gotten my bike stolen on campus but I had it stolen close by, in front the grocery store, I had it locked up for sure but this chick said she saw somebody cut the lock.”
Lulseged said he has taken his road bike up to 40 mph before, but not on campus.
Although little restricts riding a bike on campus, riding a skateboard, inline skates, roller skates, scooters, and anything with a motor is banned.
Students are also banned from taking their own cars on sidewalks, unpaved pathways, fields, all lawns and landscaped areas, yet emergency and maintenance vehicles are able to drive over all these terrains uninhibited.
This leaves biking the last remaining option to students who want to do more than walk.
No policies exist that prohibit students from taking or riding their bikes indoors with them although that still falls under the judgment of authorities.
“It’s probably not a good idea to be bringing bikes inside because they are a tripping hazard and the buildings really aren’t set up to have bikes inside,” Farmer said. “We would respond if the division dean or somebody in charge of that area said they don’t want bikes in their building, because of the fact that if we start letting all these people bring their bikes in it’s going to clutter up the area.”
The point is that biking indoors is only allowed if it doesn’t take up too much room, riders are not with too many friends on bikes, they ride safely, and there are no complaints.
Farmer said if one person did it, it might not be an issue, but if 10 people bring their bikes in they could get in the way if there is a fire or earthquake.
There are bikes with gasoline and electric motors in addition to peddles, the difference in regulation comes with how they are used.
“If you are going to use the motor, park it where the motorcycles park. If you are going to use the peddles then ride it like a bike,” Farmer said.
Farmer also recommended getting a solid lock.
Farmer said all the locks that get cut off are cable and chain locks not those made of solid metal rebar.
Since the start of this semester there have only been three bike thefts while in previous semesters there have been three bike thefts a week in some cases.
“The police said there is a gang in Costa Mesa that steals bikes from all over the place and they sell them for drug money,” Farmer said.
Quick release bolts on wheels and seats are easier to steal than ones that require wrenches.
“I’ve had my wheels stolen once,” John Russell, a 21-year-old psychology and graphic design major and avid OCC biker said. “These people were hanging around and skating around the bike area for about 20 minutes before taking my wheels.”
Some thefts happen much quicker than Russell’s, as one student found out.
“My bike got stolen a few weeks ago from in front of the Forum, which is supposedly the safest rack on campus. It only took them a few seconds. So the moral of the story is get a good lock,” Alex Behr, a 19-year-old business major said.
As long as bikers demonstrate more courtesy and competence then some of the skaters have in the past, riding on campus will remain one of the last vestiges of transportation for students around school.
Farmer said skateboarders have turned bicycle racks upside down to grind down stairwells with.
Because they didn’t put the racks back where they belong, and the noise they made while riding by classrooms, and some skaters just being plain clumsy by running into people, bad feelings toward the skaters arose.
In 1992 it was banned by the Coast Community College District.
“It’s a district policy and the reason for the policy is we had so many complaints years ago coming in from the students and faculty and staff about the skateboarders on campus that they put it on a board agenda item to ban it, because of the noise, because of skaters running into other people and because of the damage that they do,” Farmer said. “They opened it up for pros and cons and nobody showed up for pro.”
He said now there is a three strikes policy of sorts for skateboarding, with the final punishment not being able to come to school.
“First time they are stopped on campus we are going to give them a warning, the second time we catch them it’s going to the dean of students, if it happens again they get suspended,” Farmer said.
Campus Safety officers will often turn a blind eye to parking lot skating because they understand how long the walk is.
“Technically it’s not allowed in the parking lots but obviously we know that people are parking far away and they use it for transportation, but when they hit the sidewalks where the pedestrians are we tell them to pick it up,” Farmer said. “A lot of them comply, some of them don’t. We probably have written up about 1,500 since the policy began. We have a very low percentage of repeat offenders.”