Campus concerns over bike safety lead to awareness month
April 8, 2010
The University of Wisconsin-River Falls safety committee will be raising the awareness of bike safety in the month of April to help inform students of proper bicycling on campus.
Connie Smith, the director of risk management at UWRF, said that concerns from those on campus have led to the bike safety awareness.
“Given the level of concern, the UWRF Safety Committee will be raising awareness around bicycle safety on campus during the month of April,” she said.
“With the help of ideas from residence hall managers, the safety committee will be designing a button, distributing bike safety information at the UC, and posting signs on campus with ‘rules of the road.’”
Smith said the program is designed to help teach bikers that they must always yield to pedestrians while bicycling on campus.
“Concern has been expressed to University Police and Risk Management that some bicyclers on campus are not respecting the fact that pedestrians always have the right of way on sidewalks,” she said.
Although the University Police are part of the accident reporting process, they declined to comment on the issue. One officer said that it was not his “area of expertise.”
According to the UWRF Risk Management Web site, sidewalk biking can not only be a nuisance, but also illegal.
“It is also illegal unless the community has passed an ordinance specifically permitting sidewalk riding. This can be age-restricted, location-restricted or based on the type of property abutting the sidewalk.”
A report on bicycle use also said that bikes “are vehicles” and “they belong on the road.”
The bike safety movement has come after spring, when bike traffic increases with the warmer weather.
Smith said that pedestrian and bike incidents have happened on campus in the past in part due to lack of awareness from bicyclists.
“There have been reports that walkers have had to jump out of the way of a bicycler or have had to stop and wait for them to cross their path because it didn’t look like the bicycler would slow down,” she said.
With all the awareness, Smith said she does not discourage bike use on campus. She said that bicycle use is a good use of transportation that is not hard on the environment.
“With the focus of sustainability on campus, bike riding and other similar modes of travel are certainly encouraged,” she said. “However, this shouldn’t come at the expense of the safety of people who are walking on campus sidewalks.”
Smith also commented on the amount of accidents reported on campus.
Due to circumstances of accidents, campus authorities are sometimes not aware of these accidents.
“While there have been a few reports of people actually getting hit by a bicycler, very few are documented because people simply don’t report the incident to anyone,” she said. “So far, injuries have been minor but the potential for a more serious injury is always there as bicycle traffic increases during nicer weather.”
More information on bike safety is available at the UWRF risk management Web site, including proper rules for biking on roads with traffic.