The Daily Illini

Dear freshmen, beware of the bicycle lane

By Mary Adam, Columist

This past summer I received many pieces of advice from friends, family members and co-workers for beginning college. Some I was happy to hear, but some was unsolicited. I heard everything from go to class, don’t drink jungle juice, don’t die, don’t join the Greek system, do join the Greek system, don’t live in Bromley because the food will give you diarrhea, don’t talk to boys (that one was from my dad) and be cautious of the squirrels.

The one thing I was not warned about — queue the scary music — was the bike lane. The first day of class I nervously grabbed onto my backpack straps and crossed the street. The moment my feet hit the gravel of the bike path I trespassed into the belly of a monster.

As soon as I crossed the line of foreign territory, pure terror shook my whole body. I missed getting mowed down by a bike by nearly a couple inches. I fearfully proceeded with my walk to class. Nearly 50 feet away from the English building, a psycho on a skateboard ran into me.

There is no escape from these guys. That was the exact moment I declared war on the bike lane. I’m not just talking to bicyclists. I’m talking to anyone who rides something that has wheels on it.

Yeah, that’s right, I’m talking to people who skateboard, rollerblade and use those weird machines where you sit down and pedal, which is real and I saw one the other day.

I may sound like a monster myself saying this, but I do receive some joy when an enraged biker has to abruptly halt for a pedestrian.

Pedestrians who walk have got to stand their ground. Being on wheels may make one feel invisible, but the wheels don’t own this campus. I’m all for saving the environment and helping to end climate change. I mean, who doesn’t want to help out Leonardo DiCaprio? All I’m asking is these students on wheels be more careful and courteous when riding in the bike lane near the Main Quad.

I’m tired of the anxiety of having to frantically look both ways before crossing the bike lane, and I’ve only been here five weeks. The kind of stress I get from the bike lane can’t be healthy. I don’t think the bike lane should be axed, I’m just here to speak on behalf of the walkers. There are a lot of positives of the bike lane; at least the bikers don’t wear bike shorts. That’s the only positive I can think of, but it’s a huge positive.

Bikers and walkers need to learn to coexist peacefully at the University, and the ball is in the bikers’ court.

Mary is a freshman in CS. 

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  • ” I’m all for saving the environment and helping to end climate change. I mean, who doesn’t want to help out Leonardo DiCaprio?”

    One of the biggest problems with this generation today summed up so nicely.

  • rivardau

    pedestrians ALWAYS have to look both ways before crossing anything, even other sidewalks of cross-flow pedestrians! sorry you get tired of having to look both ways…but, peds need to get off their cell phones and take those plugs out of their ears, and PAY ATTENTION when they walk. It is a matter of your survival to avoid being hit by buses, trains, cars, and yes even bikes or other pedestrians.

    Also….way too many pedestrians are walking on the bike lanes. Granted, too many bicyclists are on the sidewalks too! I even have pix of cars on campus sidewalks, and peds walking in street lanes too. And pedestrians running in front of traffic mid-block, and crossing against the signals (especially along green st).

    And also, that people don’t always know where bus stops are or even how to use the bus, illegal parking, cyclists going the wrong way down one-way streets, and too many people – drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists alike – using cell phones while moving and not paying attention to their surroundings.

    In our transportation planning field, this is “misbehaviour”, acting either against the actual laws, or the common-sense laws of physics. But there are also 7000 + new people every august 25th or so, and it is simply impossible to teach 7000 new people about transportation laws and use in general (bcs they didnt learn it right from their parents or former towns), and especially about transportation in C-U.

    Many new students are from small towns that don’t have bus systems nor bike lanes. Other students are from huge cities where transit is 2nd nature to them but cars driving on the right-hand side of the road is not!

    Even 4-5 wks is not enough to get everyone taught. Univ staff, MTD staff, the police, the public like me – we all try to offer help, maps, answer questions, hold seminars/conferences, have RA’s talk of things, UIUC orientation class, etc.

    Just HOW MANY FRESHMEN do you think actually listen to half of what we talk about? to them they think it is unimportant, or boring, or worthy of skipping that day of class/lecture/event_opportunity, etc…

    People only really start paying attention when the cops start enforcing the laws in October…and then pedestrians and cyclists complain about how terrible the cops are for giving them a jaywalking ticket or a drunk-driving-on-bicycle ticket.

    but you all don’t pay attention to all the opportunities that are provided for you to try to learn these things. and in spite of all our best efforts….

    some people still misbehave, and walk on bike lanes, or cycle on sidewalks, or drive cars willy-nilly while texting.

    So, yes, YOU yourself, in the end, are a bit responsible, for at minimum looking both ways, even when you don’t feel you should morally or legally.