Wilson: Be safe with bikes, avoid a yikes

Peter Wilson, Staff Columnist

Everybody gets to class differently. Some walk, others run and some even Uber. And, of course, some people ride their bikes to class.

It’s an excellent option, as I ride my bike to class every day. It’s fast, it’s easy and there are bike stands all around campus that promote riding. As many may have noticed though, some students are crazy on their bikes. They zoom past people, streaking by pedestrians far closer than they should be. Frequently, people will even get hit.

This has been brought up recently in an email by Vice President of Student Affairs Lou Stark. Nobody wants anyone to end up like Matthew Rosin, who was tragically killed by a bike after getting hit while on a sidewalk. There are several changes which need to be enacted to ensure the safety of those who walk. Specifically, there should be designated biking lanes and areas to remove cyclists from close quarters with pedestrians, and short instructional classes should be offered to help cyclists understand decisions they can make to be safer.

As it stands now, cyclists can ride anywhere they choose on campus, save for the Binary Walkway. No matter how narrow the sidewalk may be, cyclists can race on. There are clearly areas on campus which are wide enough to accommodate both walkers and cyclists. However, as it is faster, many cyclists choose to ride on the narrower pathways. Many pedestrians choose to traverse those paths as well, as they are more direct. This results in more walkers and cyclists sharing a smaller space.

This is exceptionally unsafe as people can fly out from around a corner and collide with an unaware passerby. There stands no reason that this should continue to happen day in and day out. Those who choose to walk should not have to fear that they will be hit.

There is currently no instruction at Case Western Reserve University about bike safety and how cyclists and walkers should learn to share the sidewalk. An instructional session of such content would be exceptionally helpful in creating a safer bike culture on this campus. The session would cover strategies to move safely around people, what to call out, when and where not to ride and how to safely navigate busy sidewalks after class. Simple bike care and mechanics could also be covered. As a cyclist myself, I am absolutely certain that I, and others, would benefit from such a session. Just being aware of the situation and how one’s decisions can affect others can change the actions of anyone.

I do not mean to blame cyclists in the least. I do not believe it is solely the fault of the cyclists or believe the institution hasn’t done enough to ensure the safety of everyone. It is just as dangerous for the walker as the biker during a collision, as both people end up on the ground. We should not discriminate against those who choose to bike, rather, we should all work harder together to establish safer protocols for this campus.

This campus has the ability to encourage all people to be safer. Let us, as a campus, not face a tragedy as the University of Delaware did in the case of Rosin. No longer should the large and fast speed past and knock over the small. Bike as you’d like, but be safe about it and aware of those around you.

Peter Wilson is a second-year biomedical engineering student on the biomaterials track. He works in the Gustafson Lab and can be found on Twitter at @wpieltseorn.