I was recently in a bike accident, which resulted in my left knee having to be stitched back together. As a brief aside: To the pedestrian who, while I was on the ground bleeding, made it abundantly clear that I ran into her, I apologize. After experiencing the harm a bike accident can create, I have realized that our bicycle paths are not scenes of gracefully flowing traffic with cyclists gently flowing in and out of the bike lanes, like an elegant dance. Our paths are combat zones, where a heightened awareness of one’s surroundings is a necessity in avoiding constant crashes. The cacophony of screeching bike tires is a standard sound in our campus environment.
On the first day, post accident, that I dared to venture onto the battlefield we call a bike path, I witnessed three near-calamities and two true collisions. One of these biking catastrophes resulted in a man executing an acrobatic somersault over his handlebars when a cyclist ahead of him abruptly halted without warning. The second collision included me. Yes, days following what I would consider a rather intense cycling mishap, I was once again involved in an accident. A Speedy Gonzales of a man decided that he had the right-of-way into my rear tire. That tire now makes an ever so enjoyable whimpering howl as it rotates – thank you kindly.
The other day, as I warily biked through campus, I came upon the aftermath of another cycling disaster. On the grassy patch between the Thunderdome and the new Dramatic Arts construction, wounded students held their heads as blood slid down the sides of their faces. Paramedics on scene administered medical aid as police questioned witnesses. It was like a scene from a car accident on Interstate 5. This correlation ignited my thought processes. Car accidents are avoided by preemptively training the drivers. In order to operate a motor vehicle, our laws require drivers to demonstrate understanding of vehicular codes. Imagine a world where right-of-way lacked designation. With this abdication of order, would everyone sit at a four-way stop waiting? Or would we all go at once and ultimately collide? Regulations are in place to protect ourselves and our property. Currently, bicycling on this campus is an event of anarchy. Yes, most have a tendency toward general courtesy on the paths; however, without absolute understanding of proper cycling etiquette by all, how can we be assured that our fellow cyclists will not cut us off or stop suddenly?
Analogous to the concept of driver’s education, which instructs the rules of the road, the university should provide biker’s education, presenting a brief overview of cycling safety. By incorporating this education into orientation sessions that incoming freshman and transfers already attend, we have the potential to alleviate the abundance of accidents and the occasional injuries, all the while only enhancing the excitement evoked during the droning days which orientation produces. Through the acquisition of this cycling etiquette, we can make peace on the gruesome war zone we have dubbed a “bike path.”