Bikers vs. pedestrians: Students dodge collisions due to small pathways, lack of bike lanes

Haley Hayes/Contributing photographer Bikers use the sidewalk and street to navigate around campus.
Haley Hayes/Contributing photographer Bikers use the sidewalk and street to navigate around campus.

Haley Hayes/Contributing photographer
Bikers use the sidewalk and street to navigate around campus.

The dynamic between on-campus bikers and pedestrians is a daily struggle for many students on their walk, or ride, to class.

The lack of bike lanes and communication between bikers and walkers leave pedestrians hoping not to end up colliding with a biker on their way across campus.

Patrick McCluskey, junior from Chicago, said he usually rides his bike for exercise and stress relief. The times he has brought his bike on campus for the commute between classes, he has dealt with weaving through pedestrians.

“It’s sometimes a little difficult to get around the people that are in close groups,” McCluskey said. “There’s really no good path to ride from say, the residential area to the chemistry building.”

Students who are not used to bikers also tend to be unaware of the jargon bikers use to let each other know when someone is coming up behind them.

For bikers, this makes a quick decision to turn in order to miss a pedestrian difficult. Bikers cannot predict the future, said John Shehan, junior from Louisville, Ky.

“People freak out when there’s a bike,” Shehan said. “When they try to get out of the way when there’s a biker, that’s when wrecks can happen because bikers can’t predict where the person’s going.”

Shehan said he has never personally hit someone, but he has had a serious wreck on campus involving pedestrians.

Shehan biked around a corner too quickly to see a group of students standing just feet from the building blocking his view. He had to bail off of his bike to avoid hitting the group of students.

The wreck left Shehan with a number of scars and a more cautious attitude toward his biking speed, he said.

Several non-biking students said they agree that bikers move too quickly without riding in a specific area.

Seth Dias, freshman from Indianapolis, said people become careless in their rush to get to class.

Dias said he has noticed this is especially true on more constricted paths like the bridge or the sidewalk between Price Doyle Fine Arts Complex and Blackburn Science Building, and said it gets dangerous when bikers whiz by.

“Some people are late to class and start blowing by, and with the crowds, sometimes it’s even hard to walk through,” Dias said. “I’m surprised there aren’t more wrecks, actually.”

Shehan and Allison Jones, sophomore from Nashville, Tenn., said they would support the construction of a bike lane in order to keep pedestrians out of bikers’ and harm’s way.

As a child, Jones lived in Murray and spent many summers biking around the campus, never worrying about hitting people.

As an adult, she fears for her safety when biking the busy streets around the city to the point that she does not bring her bike on campus at all.

Even without cars, Jones said she can see the danger presented to pedestrians and bikers on campus.

“I feel like if they had their own area — their own lane, it would be okay,” Jones said. “You know, because people walk slowly and biking slow can be a pain.”

Shehan, who bikes to class every day rain or shine, said he is in full support of the creation of a bike lane.

He said he would even be willing to help pay for the lane’s creation.

“Heck yeah I’d use bike lanes,” Shehan said. “I think there definitely should be specific spot for bikers. I would even pay. I’d pay a tax or fee or something to have a bike lane put in.”

 

Story by Amanda Grau, Staff writer