More officers to monitor speed, safety of bicyclists

While motor vehicle traffic has decreased, bicycle traffic has increased on campus over the last five years.

Though two-wheel vehicles may seem less dangerous, drivers still need to be aware of pedestrians, Office of Public Safety Director David Backstrom said.

To help heighten awareness, Eau Claire was awarded a $1,000 grant from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation that will allow the office of public safety to put more officers at high traffic areas to warn and cite bicyclists, Backstrom said.

One of the most dangerous areas for bicyclists is the hill that connects upper and lower campus, Backstrom said.

Bike riders are expected to walk their bikes down the hill when classes are in session.

When the hill is open to traffic, the steep incline allows bicyclists to easily exceed the posted speed limit of 15 mph that cars and bikes are expected to abide by. Backstrom said that officers have clocked bicyclists going over 40 mph, which makes it very difficult to stop for cars or pedestrians.

More officers also will be around the Hibbard and Water Street intersections to cite and warn students about excessive speed and failure to obey traffic signs.

“The most important thing (for bicyclists on campus) is to be concerned with all the people on foot,” Backstrom said.

Officer Doug Hubbard helped Eau Claire secure this grant and hopes that the state will give the university more grants in the future to continue the patrolling throughout the school year.

“This campus is probably the most highly congested area in the city,” Hubbard said in a press release. “We’re lucky we don’t have more injuries than we do.”