Los Angeles Police Department officers have been stationed around campus handing out citations to USC students on bicycles and skateboards. A week ago, USC Department of Public Safety officers issued warnings to bikers and boarders who weren't stopping at traffic signs or who were wearing headphones, telling them to obey traffic laws.
The crackdowns have left many students wondering whether commuters on rollerblades, bikes, scooters and hoverboards have to obey the same traffic laws as cars.
Shortly after 8:30 Wednesday morning, three officers were seen on motorcycles on the corners of Jefferson Avenue and McClintock Avenue and on the corner of 30th Street and McClintock Avenue enforcing the perimeters of the USC campus.
The officers then moved to Hoover Street and Figueroa Street. Officer Jerome Divinity of the LAPD was issuing oral warnings, written warnings and citations to educate the public on the current traffic laws.
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According to Officer Divinity, bikers should be riding with the flow of traffic and not going in the opposite direction. Students on skateboards, rollerblades and hoverboards should be on sidewalks to avoid creating traffic hazards.
"We aren't always writing tickets," Divinity said. "Writing the ticket is up to the officer," he said, adding that bikes going against the flow of traffic are "creating safety hazards."
The LAPD told Annenberg Media that there is a high number of hit-and-run incidents in the USC area, which would warrant a heavier traffic enforcement presence.
"I was [biking] on the sidewalk and there was a mass of people. I went on the street to go around all of them while they crossed," USC senior Riley Sanders said.
That led Sanders to bike in the wrong direction of traffic. He was told to stop by an officer, he said, but did not because he was in a rush to get to class.
Sanders took matters into his own hands, standing about 50 feet in front of the officer and warning students. Sanders said he was ticketed on the corner of 32nd Street and Hoover Street and felt compelled to let others know.
"I'm going to contest it. They're trying to meet their quota quickly," Sanders said. "They think they'll be making money off of this because people won't contest it."
Students who received these citations were not told what their fine for the tickets would be. They should expect to receive a notice in the mail with details in about three weeks.
The Traffic Clerk's Office of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Courthouse said the minimum fine for running a stop sign is $238, which increases to $490 for running a red light. The fine is the same for both cars and bikes because the law is the same for both.
The persistent construction around USC comes with road closures and blocked bike lanes, and Sanders pointed out that there's no bike lane on Hoover Street next to USC Village.
"I've been at this school for three years and have never seen students get tickets here," said Sanders. "I'm pretty upset. He handled it poorly and didn't even tell me why I was getting the citation."
Reach Staff Reporter Hamdah Salhut here.
Updated 2:02 p.m. PT on Oct. 5 to clarify the circumstances surrounding Sanders' ticket.
Updated 3:21 p.m. PT on Oct. 5 with current information about traffic fines and a comment from the LAPD.