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Ohio State students disagree over regulations for bikers on campus

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With at least 10 construction sites under way at Ohio State and other various no bike zones in place, some students who bike around campus are realizing what their limitations are.

The Oval and South Oval were named walk zones in April, meaning bikers and skateboarders are required to dismount in those areas.

Some students said enforcing a dismount zone is too broad of a goal.

Chris Watkins, a fourth-year in landscape architecture, said bike safety could be encouraged in a different way, one that restricts bikers less.

“It’s dumb,” said Watkins, who rides his bike on campus. “I understand they want biking on the street, but for the Oval, that’s not feasible. They should accommodate it for bikes instead of just saying ‘no.’”

Genevieve Simon, a fourth-year in theater, said she’s discouraged with the inconsistency of bike routes on campus.

“It is harder (to bike) in some ways. Sometimes things are blocked without notice. I only bike on the street, I feel safer around cars than I do with people,” she said. “I’m frustrated with how inconsistent the Oval is — they’re attacking one group of people (bikers) when there are groups of people (walking) with headphones that aren’t always looking.”

Steven Platko, a third-year in neuroscience, said he rides his bike through the Oval despite the dismount zone rule.

“It (the bike-free zone) is kind of easy to avoid,” he said.

Platko added having rules where bikes must stay off sidewalks ends up slowing down traffic.

“Treating a bike like a car does not work,” he said.

James Balata, a fourth-year in computer science and engineering, said as a pedestrian, he doesn’t think bikers should be allowed to ride on the sidewalks.

“I don’t feel safe with bikers weaving in and out in front of me,” Balata said.

He also said the dismount zone is effective in its safety message.

“I do feel safer crossing campus,” Balata said. “I believe it’s fine sharing the road, but bikers have to follow the rules of the road … We should be stricter when bikers are not following the rules.”

Simon, though, was critical of the bike-free zone policies.

“It’s a hard policy to enforce,” Simon said. “I know they want to educate, but instead of educating some (of the bikers), they should educate all.”

Some students are unclear about the rules of the road altogether. Brandon Brush, a first-year in mechanical engineering, said he is unsure whether the sidewalks and streets are off-limits to bike riders because many people still use them.

“I’m a little confused if we’re supposed to use the sidewalk,” Brush said. “I see the signs saying not to ride on the sidewalk, but most people still do.”

In an effort to increase safety and reduce the amount of accidents on campus, Ohio State created the Share the Road campaign and a task force last year.

OSU created the Traffic Safety Task Force in September 2012 after three traffic incidents on or adjacent to campus left OSU students with major injuries.

It is not only the bicyclists who have to be cautious when travelling in and around campus, but also everyone they come into contact with, said Lindsay Komlanc, OSU spokeswoman for Administration and Planning.

“Traffic safety requires participation from all modes of transportation – pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists,” Komlanc said. “That’s why the university’s Share the Road campaign addresses all modes of transportation.”

The Share the Road campaign is also responsible for the signs around the sidewalks and roads on campus, which designate the site as a bike-free zone.

3 comments

  1. Haha OSU’s bike safety campaign is a joke, and once again the students at the University are proving that it isn’t working. Go to that traffic’s campaigns website and read their stupid proposals to bike safety. Yet again, they state that the safest way to ride a bike on campus is to not ride a bike. This is disturbing for a “focus group” (yes that is all you are because you can’t get anything worth while accomplished) that claims to care about bicycling safety.

    The Oval isn’t even 1 mile in circumference. Ohio State is the largest university in the US? So maybe you should consider this. Students will be riding all over the campus to get from one place to another, so maybe some better measure should be put in place. Give us a damn bike lane from inner campus to west campus. That is by far the worst place to ride and THE MOST TRAFFICKED RIDING SPOT (makes sense right?)

    But OSU doesn’t care about bicycle safety. They care about car access to every building. That is why there is now yet ANOTHER connector from high street to inner campus (18th now connects to high street).

    The stupid signs that you put up saying “you can’t bike here” or “follow the rules” don’t accomplish anything. They don’t accomplish anything in the same way that drivers to not respect the speed limit or other signs. Enforce the rules and take into account that the drivers that disobey the rules of the road are 99% more likely to cause a fatal accident than a bicycle on the Oval.

  2. I honestly can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost been hit by bikers walking around campus. I also can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen bikers ignore road signs or try to plow through a crowd of people at a sidewalk.

    I realize it’s probably a small minority, but the bikers on campus, at least to me, seem extremely reckless, with no disregard for their safety or others’. If the bikers stopped at stop signs, yielded to pedestrians, and followed the rules, I don’t think there’d be an issue with bikers on campus.

    As it stands, however, we have a problem.

  3. As I’ve stated before, riding on the sidewalk is ILLEGAL. This frustrates me a lot because now the commuters that obey the traffic laws are clumped into the same category as the stupid bicyclists on the sidewalks. Also, just an FYI, it is FASTER to ride a bike with the flow of traffic in the street, instead of clogging up sidewalks, to get from on place to another. I have timed it and taken many different routes through campus.

    However, another factor comes into play. All of the bicycling locking points, I MEAN ALL OF THEM, are next to buildings. And guess what? Everyone is going to ride there bike to that point, just like a car is going to drive to the closest parking spot to the building they need to get to. Here is another problem that needs a solution.

    I know it seems easy and convenient to say “just don’t ride your bicycle here” but the counter to that argument is, just don’t drive your car here. Can you see the double standard that has been presented to ALL cyclists? I will say it again. Make is safer for cyclist to ride their bike on the street, with the flow of traffic, and less bicycles will go on the sidewalks. Is that enough of a LEARNING campaign for you? Some cyclist, like myself, are used to interacting with traffic, but others aren’t. By painting a small white bicycle on the street, you are not advocating “share the road” at all. Those simply do not work.

    Next time you see a car pass a cyclist, I urge you to watch closely the distance they leave them. And then watch when that same car passes a bus. You will be amazing at how much space the car will leave the bus and how little it will leave the cyclist.

    Until OSU can address cycling on campus fulling and act as if they care about the lives of their students, their safety program will remain a JOKE.

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