Campus hill a source of student injuries


Story by Emily Albrent, Chief Copy Editor

Connecting lower and upper campus, the campus hill acts as a gateway to our homes and our classes. However, the hill is also a dangerous place if you are not cautious, especially while riding a bike.

There has recently been an additional gate installed at the bottom of the hill that has been a source of multiple student accidents.

“We anticipate that there is going to be a spike (of accidents) in the beginning of the school year because we have a lot of
new students both at the university and at the technical college that aren’t aware of it,” UW-Eau Claire police sergeant Christopher Kirchman said.

Kirchman said the extra gate is not necessarily the only reason why some students may be caught off guard. He also said most of the accidents happen almost always by operator error, such as breaks on the bike, or biker speed, rather than a design flaw.

“The gates were placed there to slow those bicyclists down, so that those vehicles turning could see them. Since those gates have gone up, we have not had a single bicyclist vs. motor vehicle type accident,” Kirchman said.

However, not all of these accidents are happening just on bicycles, Kirchman said.

“The accidents we are having are people who are either already breaking the law by riding skateboards or rollerblades in a place they are not supposed to, or bicyclists who are either not paying attention, going too fast, and a lot, not all, who have faulty equipment on their bikes,” Kirchman said.

Kirchman said a man came down the hill on roller blades, hit the gate and dislocated his shoulder. In the meantime, bicyclists went down the hill, ran into the gate, knocked it down and crashed.

“We are really trying to put as much information out there about this as we can, not just about the hill, but bicycles in general,” Kirchman said.

When students are hurt, many times they seek help, and although the professionals at the Student Health Service are not always the first responders, they have heard and dealt with some students regarding accidents on the hill.

“We have seen some students, many of them, depends on how bad the accident is, many would have a 911 response … we have had some students that have refused ambulances and then said they would come up here,” said Laura Chellman, nurse and
director of Student Health Service.

To help prevent future injuries, Chellman suggests making sure that students take a number of safety precautions.
“A couple of things, if they still insist on riding their bikes, I think they should have a bike helmet, because of the head
injuries that can occur, (and) making sure their bike is in good working order,” Chellman said.

If a student happens to see someone get hurt while riding down the hill, Student Health Service physician Joanne Mellema said to take action and help the person who has been injured.

“Assess if they are conscious, if they can sit up, if they seem to be unconscious or knocked out certainly they need to get the emergency response,” Mellema said.

Mellema said if there is any question, call 911 and make sure they get the help they need.