Bikers’ road rash prompts police response
A wave of bicycle accidents on campus earlier this month has prompted University Police to step up efforts to inform students about bike and skateboard laws.
During a 10-day period in mid-September, University Police responded to one skateboard and four bike accidents across campus – a significant increase from the one or two accidents usually reported during the fall semester, University Police Sgt. Chris Kirchman said.
“To have five (accidents) in a 10-day period here is highly unusual for our university,” he said.
The likely culprit behind the recent spike in crashes, Kirchman said, is an increase in the number of people riding bikes this year as well as unusually warm weather through September. Most of the accidents, he added, resulted in only minor injuries.
According to information Kirchman provided, the following incidents occurred on campus earlier this month:
On Sept. 9 a bicyclist collided with the traffic gate at the bottom of the Garfield Avenue hill.
On Sept. 11 a van struck a bicyclist in a crosswalk in the Phillips Hall parking lot.
On Sept. 15 a bicyclist fell down while going off the sidewalk near the footbridge by Haas Fine Arts Center.
On Sept. 18 a skateboarder fell down while going off the sidewalk near the footbridge by Haas Fine Arts Center.
On Sept. 19 a bicyclist crashed into another bicyclist in front of McIntyre Library.
One student living on campus said he sees bikers on the hill riding far above the posted 15 mph speed limit.
“They’re zooming down there,” freshman Anthony Ostrowski said. “When we came here for orientation there were bikes going faster than cars.”
Kirchman said the hill is usually the site of most on-campus bike injuries, and added that bikers, like automobile drivers, are required to follow posted speed limits.
The university police department plans to post information on bike, skateboard and pedestrian laws on its Web site as early as today, Kirchman said. He said he also handed out bike-safety information to students on the Campus Mall Thursday to inform students about state bike regulations.
According to information Kirchman provided The Spectator, bikers must, among other things, stay to the right-hand side of the street, stop at stop signs, obey the speed limit and give hand signals when turning. Wearing a helmet isn’t required but is encouraged, Kirchman said.
Skateboards and roller blades are not allowed on the street, according to other information Kirchman gave the newspaper. Performing tricks and stunts is also prohibited on campus.
Kirchman said pedestrians should also take responsibility to pay attention to bikers on campus to avoid injury themselves.
“We’ve had some very serious injuries that have altered people’s lives,” he said, “becaue of injuries from bike-and-pedestrian accidents.”