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Introduction to Osaka University

Ban on Riding Bicycles on "Handai-zaka" [Osaka University Slope]

Handai-zaka [the road known as "Osaka University Slope" situated on the western edge of the Toyonaka campus] has been used for a long time by people living in that area. Moreover, under the Building Standards Act, the road on the slope is designated as a road open to motor vehicles. However, following the beautification and reconstruction work on Handai-zaka and with the kind understanding and cooperation of the citizens in that area, in 2008 Osaka University banned vehicles from using that road between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. on weekdays.

This unfortunate step was taken in light of the fact that more and more bicyclists were taking advantage of the improved slope and going down it at dangerously high speeds. Needless to say, bicyclists coming down the slope at high speeds created a very dangerous situation daily for pedestrians, one that had already resulted in serious physical injury.

Therefore, Osaka University's Facility Management Committee and Committee for Traffic Safety considered measures to reduce traffic speed and improve safety on the slope, steps such as building speed bumps or separating the roadway and walkway. However, the effectiveness of such measures was questioned. It was even feared such measures might even increase accidents.

Thus, Osaka University embarked on a variety of measures to curtail bicyclists hurtling down Handai-zaka. First, they distributed pamphlets and posted signs asking people to follow traffic rules. However, these steps did not result in a significant decline of traffic offenders.

Thus, in October 2007, Osaka University assigned traffic wardens and asked bikers to walk their bikes when going up or down the slope. Within two months, the problem seemed to be solved; bicyclists careening down the slope were no longer seen. Thinking that the problem had been solved and that users of the slope were now familiar with the rules, Osaka University stopped staffing the slope with traffic wardens. Unfortunately, within a short time, the state of affairs returned to the condition that it had been in before the introduction of the traffic wardens.

Under these circumstances, the Facility Management Committee asked the Toyonaka Council of Deans and Directors to consider measures for controlling traffic on Handai-zaka, including the management of bicycle parking lots on the Toyonaka campus. In response to this request and after consideration of what had happened thus far, on January 21, 2008, the Toyonaka Council of Deans and Directors advised the step of banning bicycle travel on Handai-zaka.

Following their decision, the Committee for Traffic Safety and the Facility Management Committee approved the ban of bicycle travel on Handai-zaka. This step was finalized and put into effect in April 2008.

To assist with the implementation of the ban on bicycle use on the slope, schools on the Toyonaka campus informed OU community members of the new measure. Furthermore, it was decided that schools would respond to troubles, requests, and complaints associated with the implementation of the ban on bicycle use and the Committee for Traffic Safety and the Facility Management Committee would deal with problems needing professional or university-wide response.

The authorities are aware that there are no regulations that satisfy all people concerned; however, securing the safety of students, faculty, and staff is one of the most important duties of the university. Thus, even if these measures inconvenience some OU community members, considering the importance of this matter, these measures have been approved.

From the very beginning, as most students, faculty and staff using the slope walk to the university, many questioned the "inconvenience" of asking bicycle riders to park their bicycles in the parking lots at the foot of the slope and walk up the slope. Thus, many students, faculty, and staff have welcomed the current regulation with some calling for even stricter regulations.

We dare say that the wise course of action lies with compromise and policies which provide all community members with a safe and attractive campus rather than insisting on individual interests. We trust that all members of the OU community understand and are in agreement on this point.

 

November 2008
Facility Management Committee
Committee for Traffic Safety

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