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Discussing bikes, buses, cars and pedestrians, about 30 people gathered in College Hall on Monday evening to talk about transportation issues on and around campus. The event was the first of a series of open forums on Penn's campus development plan -- which outlines ground rules for future architectural and landscaping projects on campus. The forum was sponsored by the Office of the University Architect and the Olin Partnership, a local landscape and architectural design firm chosen last April to conduct a campus development review. During the meeting, University and Olin Partnership officials gave an overview of transportation issues at Penn -- including public transit, automobile, bicycle and pedestrian traffic -- and suggested possible solutions to these problems. "We need to actually think and debate and talk for a period of time," Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning Professor Laurie Olin said. "We will then go back and try and draw some things that hopefully are going to solve some of the issues facing the University." One of the issues raised at the forum was bicycle safety, which has recently gained prominence after two fatal bicycle accidents on campus this semester. "What will you do and what can you do to make things safer on the main roads?" second-year Wharton MBA student Peter Allen asked. In response, Penn officials said they hope to lower traffic speeds in the streets around campus and redesign area streets to create a system of connected bicycle lanes that they hope will increase biker safety at Penn. These plans will supplement a city initiative that will add bike lanes or bike-friendly areas to Walnut, Chestnut and Spruce streets over the next year. "It's crucial that we improve cycle safety," Olin Partnership principal Susan Weiler said. Officials also discussed ways to encourage more students, faculty and staff to take advantage of public transportation and reduce parking on campus and how to coordinate Penn transit with SEPTA services to reduce service redundancy. Second-year City Planning graduate student M.J. Berman said students are using Penn bus services instead of SEPTA. "What kind of policy has the school encouraged to discourage students from using public transportation?" he asked. Vice President for Facilities Services Omar Blaik responded that while the University may have in the past encouraged students to avoid public transportation, it now wants to change the perception of SEPTA as unsafe. Other participants added that some students take Penn shuttle and bus services because they are free, not because they feel other means of transit are dangerous. Officials also said they are looking at ways to make pedestrian traffic, especially at busy intersections, safer for those who travel on foot.

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