New Bioengineering Building Opens, Webb Hall Bicycle Path Re-Opens

The newly-constructed bike path allows students to easily make it to their classes in less time. (Alex Meinhof/The Bottom Line)
Shomik Mukherjee
News Editor

Few University of California, Santa Barbara students remember a time when the bicycle path south of the UCSB library and west of Webb Hall was open to bicyclists on campus — unless, of course, they checked after Oct. 16.

The path was officially reopened to students for use a few days before a grand opening ceremony honored the new Bioengineering building, which sits between the library and Psychology building.

Construction of the new building was planned as early as 2010 and formally approved in 2011, when the UCSB Office of Campus Planning and Design signed off on an academic building specific to the field of bioengineering. But official work did not begin until the summer of 2014, when state funding kicked in, allowing for the $81.6 million building to be built.

In its finished form, the building includes “up to 12 bioengineering-related faculty and their research groups,” according to a release. It also features two full academic units: The Center for Bioengineering and the Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies.

UCSB Ph.D candidates pursuing an interdisciplinary emphasis study bioengineering. Biology majors in the College of Creative Studies can also access the resources in the field. Faculty in the biomolecular sciences and engineering program can also use the labs for research.

The bicycle path west of Webb Hall was closed down, with gates pulled around the construction zone, for well over three years. Students attempting to access the engineering or science buildings, Webb Hall, Broida Hall, and Noble Hall needed to walk all the way around to UCen Road. Often, that meant parking bicycles in the racks west of the Life Sciences Building, which led to over-parking in those racks.

Associated Students Bike Committee oversees bicycle transportation across all parts of the UCSB campus. For Kevin Jin, the Bike Comm chair, the re-opening of the paths was an “exciting” moment. For years, students had expressed frustration that there had been no bicycle path that cut across campus to get to an entire cluster of buildings.

The path was supposed to be re-opened over the summer, Jin said, but several weather-related delays slowed its availability to the fall.

“With the new bike path, there can be more bike parking lots that accommodate that side of the building,” said Jin, a fourth year economics and accounting major.

Bike Comm allocated more racks to the Physical Sciences Building North and the Chemistry building during the 2016-17 school year. This year, Jin said, the committee plans to revamp the entire parking area in front of the University Center. Students often ride down a small asphalt hill to get to the racks in front of the UCen, which Jin said can lead to collisions and injuries.

“The ground is very cracked and it’s hard for students to park there,” Jin said. “Bike Committee is allocating funds for 300 more bike parking racks. “There was a tree rooted there that presented a hazard and we took it out.”

Jin also said students can expect a pilot program for bicycle sharing at UCSB in the spring. If the program is successful, he said, it will be expanded to a full-fledged bike-sharing program for students in Fall 2018.