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Speaking Out

Offense to Civility and Safety

I write in full support of Jerry Briggs' letter expressing concern about the high speed bicycle and rollerblade raceway that has developed across Blanche Levy Park. And while I am confident that the University Police are diligent in attempting to stop those who they see speeding across the campus, the fact of the matter is that the culture of speed (and incivility) is so well-intrenched among many bicyclists at Penn that whenever police officers are not present (which is, understandably, most of the time) bicyclists race across the area with reckless abandon. I cross Blanche Levy Park several times a day in the course of my business, and I am constantly dodging high speed bicyclists and rollerbladers. Until we are successful in creating among all members of our campus community a more deeply-rooted understanding that bicycling along pedestrian walkways is not permitted, we will always be dodging cyclists and roller bladers, risking injury in the process.

As a resident of Logan Hall who often crosses from that building to College Hall and Houston Hall, I have noticed yet another offense to civility and safety, and that is the extent to which the overwhelmingly hard-surfaced Wynn Commons has become an alternative to Love Park for skateboarders, mountain bikers, and rollerbladers. In addition to defacing the area, those activities also pose a significant danger to passers-by.

While this may surprise those who know me as a mild-mannered, meek individual who rarely speaks his mind, I have on occasion attempted to stop these activities, with the results in some cases leading to something just short of physical violence.

Again, I suspect that the answer is not more University police, but a clearer understanding on the part of all of those on our campus about what is appropriate and what is not.

-- Richard R. Beeman,Professor of History,Dean of the College

Denying the Obvious

Mr. Rambo's response to "Bicyclists vs. Pedestrians" (Almanac May 7) denies the obvious. Anyone who walks across campus daily is aware of the continuing, flagrant violations by bicyclists, both on the campus walks during prime hours and on the sidewalks around the University at all hours. I dodge bicycles daily while walking between the bus stop and my building, and in nearly 20 years of working on campus, I've never seen a bicyclist stopped or reprimanded by a University officer. In fact, the University's bicycle-mounted police themselves ride on the sidewalks; a few months ago, when I was feeling especially vulnerable with a broken wrist, one such mountee pedaled undeterred straight at me, despite my highly visible cast, requiring me to step aside to let him pass!

Perhaps most offensive are the bicyclists who ride full-tilt, standing up, down the sidewalk outside the Spruce Street entrance to HUP--an entrance used not only by ill and disabled people but also by emergency vehicles unloading patients on stretchers! Using blue light phones to report violators is pointless, as they will of course be long-gone before any officer could possibly arrive to "manage the situation." Mr. Rambo, more needs to be done to control violating bicyclists, whether by the Penn Police or in cooperation with the City. This remains a serious problem.

--Bonnie T. Clause, Program Director, Institute for Law and Economics

Speaking Out welcomes reader contributions. Short, timely letters on University issues will be accepted by Thursday at noon for the following Tuesday's issue, subject to right-of-reply guidelines. Advance notice of intention to submit is appreciated. --Eds.

Almanac, Vol. 48, No. 34, May 21, 2002


May 21, 2002
Volume 48 Number 34

A National Medal of Science for a pioneering Penn physicist.

SEAS selects two recipients for its annual awards.
Wharton gives awards to dozens of its faculty.
The concern about bicyclists on campus picks up momentum.
Search Committees are formed to advise on selecting two new deans.
Next Tuesday is PPSA's annual meeting and election.
Baccalaureate and Commencement speeches and photographs.
University Council committee year-end reports on Bookstores, Communications, and Community Relations.
The largest voluntary canine blood donor program in the US gets new wheels.

Recognized Holidays for faculty and staff, and revisions to the Academic Calendar.

A dozen new CCTV locations for public spaces are added to those previously approved.