Cyclists and walkers on the UCLA campus will soon enjoy a new designated bike and pedestrian route that will encourage more physical activity and open up new vistas to one of UCLA’s hidden gems, the Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden in the south end of campus.
To make way for this enhancement, which is scheduled to be completed in fall 2016 in time for the opening of the new Teaching and Learning Center for Health Sciences (TLC), Tiverton Drive will be permanently closed to through vehicular traffic beginning March 28. There will be pedestrian access on Tiverton Drive between Charles Young Drive South and Le Conte Avenue throughout the construction process. During this time, cyclists are being asked to walk their bicycles on the pedestrian path until constuction is complete and a cycling path is available.
Access to Parking Structure E via Tiverton Drive will remain open from Charles Young Drive South; vehicles will be able to reach the CHS Parking Structure from Le Conte Avenue.
The creation of this vehicle-free space also alleviates safety concerns related to the removal of the turnaround circle near the intersection of Tiverton and Le Conte. The turnaround was removed to make way for the TLC building, said David Karwaski, senior associate director of planning, policy and traffic systems. He said that traffic studies have shown that most vehicles using Tiverton Drive on campus use it to access the parking lots and not as a main roadway to navigate through campus.
"There’s not a lot of through traffic compared to volumes [of vehicles] on roadways around it," he said. During the morning peak period, fewer than 400 cars were using Tiverton. Almost 300 of those were using it solely to access parking.
The changes offer an opportunity for the creation of new spaces that will allow people to walk and bike alongside the botanical garden.
"By closing Tiverton to through traffic and just connecting for parking and drop-off, we have a direct connection among the Center for Health Sciences, the Teaching and Learning Center, and the botanical garden," said Campus Architect Jeff Averill. "It allows bikers and walkers to have a safer, less-trafficked pathway up Tiverton and into campus, and you’re also enjoying the beauty of the botanical garden."
With the addition of new sidewalks and trees, Averill said, "You’re really going to have a much better view down into the garden, and it’ll be more welcoming and draw people in."
Enhancements to the garden are also underway, thanks to a generous gift from Morton La Kretz. These funds will be used to develop a new entrance to the garden, the first step in a series of renovations to increase the garden's visibility, upgrade its infrastructure and improve accessibility for the disabled.
Supporting healthier living
Encouraging more exercise and a healthier lifestyle is something that the campus is actively promoting through its Healthy Campus Initiative, which is rooted in UCLA's long-term commitment to fostering a culture of mental and physical health and wellness. The creation of attractive and accessible public spaces is an important part of that.
"We are looking at more ways to enhance the experience of pedestrians and cyclists on our campus," said Peter Hendrickson, associate vice chancellor of design and construction in Capital Programs, adding that new racks to accommodate approximately 75 bikes will be available on the east side of TLC. "Healthy living is increasingly important to our students, staff and faculty, and this enhanced area encourages them to get out and walk or bike and to enjoy the amazing resource we have in the botanical garden."
According to UCLA Transportation’s most recent State of the Commute report, 87 percent of the students living on campus indicated that walking is their primary mode of transportation. Six percent of commuting students bike to campus. In addition, three percent of staff members reportedly commute to campus by bike. According to Karwaski, UCLA has tripled its overall number of bicycle commuters from 800 in 2005 to more than 2,500 currently. UCLA was also recognized as a "Designated Bicycle Friendly University" by the League of American Bicyclists, with more than seven miles of bike routes on campus.
"You have an established bike and pedestrian route that will be enhanced by this project, and it will make Tiverton much more attractive as a bicycling route," said Karwaski. "We’re very pleased with this opportunity. It will be safer, it will be a better level of service for cyclists and pedestrians, and it fits."