As someone who walks and bikes around campus, I have become increasingly aware of how potentially dangerous it can be.
I know this may sound like a joke, but I am totally serious. Too many times, especially in recent weeks, have I seen pedestrians nearly run over by bikes.
And at the same time, I can’t even count how many bikers I’ve seen almost crash while trying to dodge a pedestrian who has gone off course.
Not only is this incredibly frustrating, but it’s not going to be long before someone is hurt. Maybe seriously hurt.
I’m sure many people have noticed how cramped it can be commuting between classes, especially when it’s nice outside. Because adding more paths is an unrealistic (and fiscally impractical) solution, I’ve come up with a set of rules that I think can help.
Since I both walk and bike on campus, I have a pretty good perspective from both sides of the fence. I think that if followed, a simple set of rules can help make getting around campus much safer for everyone.
1. Stay on the right side
This sounds like a pretty simple one, but we are not in the UK. Nothing against our pals across the pond, but in the United States it’s customary to travel on the right side of the road, path, etc.
Too often do I see both pedestrians and bikers guilty of being on the wrong side, and this is where I think most of the problems begin. If everyone would just stay on the right side, there would never be any confusion about which way a pack of people was traveling
It would also make it much easier for bikers to cruise along because they wouldn’t have to worry about dodging people going in different directions.
2. Bikes yield to pedestrians
I constantly see pedestrians stopping to wait for bikes to go by. Or even worse, stepping out of their current path and into the biker’s, assuming the biker was going to divert from their original path.
I realize this is probably out of fear, but most bikers understand they are the ones who need to yield.
Pedestrians should continue walking in the same path and direction they were always going, and should have the peace of mind knowing the bikers would give them the right of way.
This would help avoid the constantly occurring standstill when pedestrians stop and wait for bikes to cruise by. The biker is also usually waiting, creating a pretty awkward encounter.
Just like on the road, there is a right of way to pedestrians. So give it to them.
3. STAY OUT OF THE BIKE LINE – Always
I know – pretty obvious, right? Even so, it still happens way too often on the footbridge. In case you don’t know what I am talking about, half of the bridge is reserved for bikes and appropriately labeled “bike lane” in BIG YELLOW PAINT. There is also a double-yellow set of lines dividing the two sides from each other. For anyone who hasn’t taken Driver’s Ed yet, double-yellow means do not cross. Ever.
Even if you are trying to walk around a set of really slow walkers going three-wide (and also breaking rule four), you should never do so in the bike lane. Pedestrians hardly ever look, and if they do, it’s hard to notice bikers heading in the same direction as them before it’s too late.
Just make it simple for everyone and stay on the correct side.
4. Only walk two wide
Not only on the footbridge, but also on all paths in general, try not to walk more than
two-people-wide during high traffic times. More often than not, these people are socializing, and moving at a fairly slow pace because of it.
The result is people breaking rules one and three, not to mention a pretty annoying situation when anyone wants to pass you.
5. Look up!
Surprisingly, this rule is broken as much as any other. Pedestrians in general just need to pay more attention while walking through campus. Way too often do I see people walking and staring at their phone or just zoning out, thinking about who knows what.
That’s great and all, but it puts these people in a vulnerable situation. If everyone just paid a little more attention, I think we’d all be better off.
In conclusion, I don’t think a set of rules needs to be drawn up and approved by Student Senate. That would be crazy.
All I am saying is that if everyone had a general understanding of these guidelines, I think we would all get around much more efficiently.
And, more importantly, safer.