Trojans need to keep their eyes out for electric vehicles on campus, according to the university’s Department of Public Safety.
A new DPS initiative known as the “ONE USC Safety Vision” aims to make campus safer for all by reducing crimes and collisions around University Park Campus. Pedestrians and electric vehicle riders take priority.
DPS estimates that there are around 9,000 to 15,000 bikes on both campuses, and that doesn’t even include the number of skateboards and scooters. According to a statement from the university, UPC saw 157 traffic collisions last year and the majority were caused by e-scooters, skateboards and bikes.
New campus signage around traffic-heavy areas urges students to keep their heads up, ride and walk safely and give way to fellow pedestrians.
“If we could just get ourselves thinking about other people a little bit more, I feel like it would be easier to make decisions to protect other people,” said Paulene Ng Chee, a student leader who helped with the ONE USC campaign.
There’s real danger in the fact that “these electric vehicles go so quickly,” said Amelia Horney, a USC Thornton student who suffered a dislocated ankle after being hit by a skateboarder. “I think there should definitely at least be a speed limit. Honestly, I’m kind of leaning towards banning electric vehicles.”
But Dr Eroll Southers, the Associate Senior Vice President of Safety and Risk Assurance for the university, takes a different view.
“We’re trying to build a culture,” Southers said. “We want to embrace people here in a way that makes them feel included.”
When asked about the possible implementation of a campus speed limit and increased DPS patrol, Dr. Southers was quick to point out that, “Stopping speeding students who are already in a rush does not translate to an inclusive campus.” He added that stationing DPS officers around high-traffic areas will likely hurt student perceptions of DPS, which is in conflict with the goals of ONE USC.
Dr. Southers is adamant that the program be as peer-to-peer as possible, and rely mostly on non-intrusive safety measures. That means conversations with students and participation from those who see the need for change.
Over the recent winter break, DPS repainted bike lane markers throughout campus and brought students on board to design the signage intended to make peers feel more safe. But there are currently no plans to expand bike lane infrastructure.
“Yesterday, I was so scared. There was this electric scooter and I was gonna be ran over,” freshman business administration major Zaina Kaibni said. “It was an intense moment, but other than that I don’t really mind them.”
Arushi Pant, a business administration major, said she used to be able to walk around campus and listen to music with AirPods. Now, she is more cautious of her surroundings.
“I try to not listen to music while walking for my own safety,” Pant said. “I understand that it is a campus, they should be allowed to skateboard, but maybe like having properly defined lanes for them so that we don’t collide and hurt each other.”
Monique Chavez, a graduate student studying public relations and advertising who was part of the ONE USC campaign, said the aim of the campaign is to be encouraging “and put it into an empathetic point of view and not so much like administration telling you to slow down on your bike.”
“We want students to be looking out for other students and be cautious,” Chavez said.