Bicycle situation a mess

By Stuart Warren

The bicycle situation on campus really is a mess, for far more reasons than Monday’s DI article addressed. Even with well-marked bike paths, many pedestrians still walk on the paths or, worse yet, cross them without bothering to see if there might be an approaching cyclist. For their part, many cyclists completely ignore traffic signs and expect everyone to just get out of their way. None of this is surprising, though, because people take bike safety for granted and the laws are poorly understood; I spent 20 minutes searching both Google and the Department of Public Safety’s Web site and could not find the bicycle code, and while every freshman gets a mandatory date-rape class we only talk about pedestrian safety after someone gets hit by a bus.

Another aspect of engineering not brought up by the article is that of the bikes themselves. Many cyclists – myself included – buy older bikes that aren’t in the best condition from one of the annual bike auctions. We’re students, not enthusiasts, and we just need to get between classes a bit faster than walking. Since many areas of campus don’t have bike paths, we are left with having to decide whether to ride in the road, obstructing traffic because we can’t keep up with motor vehicles, or ride on the sidewalk where we risk hitting pedestrians. Simply putting bike lanes in the roads, as the article suggested, won’t work well on campus because the roads that would most benefit from such a bike lane already have major bus stops or metered parking along the curbs. So I suggest widening as many sidewalks as possible to accommodate bike lanes, and those lanes should have raised curbs on both sides except around bus stops and intersections so that distracted pedestrians don’t randomly wander into them. Additionally, the lane on Wright needs to be extended north to Springfield to connect with the lane there, and we need a few lanes that go through Campustown because anyone living there has to traverse a lot of one-way streets or narrow sidewalks to get to campus.

Stuart Warren

Senior in Engineering