Ask the Experts

Cycle Calamity

Bicycles have become a permanent part of campus life. Are colleges doing anything to make cycling safer?

Cycling is a practical and cheap way to get around campus and town. The rise in the popularity of cycling, however, has increased the likelihood of accidents. There are a number of things to be aware of regardless of which college you are attending. If you are riding on two wheels, there is a good chance you will fall off at some stage. Staying safe and being alert to your surroundings is a good start if you want to pedal your way around campus.

Statistically, the highest rate for injury on bicycles is in the 16- to 20-year-old age group. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, college-aged people face the greatest risk. Falling off a bicycle can be just as bad, or even worse, than a motorcycle accident in many cases. Cyclists in general do not wear helmets whereas the majority of motorcyclists do. The prospect of sustaining an injury is far greater for those without adequate protective clothing. However, many students do not take sufficient precautions. How many students carry around biking gear, pads, helmet, and gloves with them? Then again, the prospect of spending months in traction should make people think twice before heading off on two wheels without proper protection.

In addition to providing educational resources and programs for students, campuses should encourage safe cycling. Attending a cycling safety workshop as part college orientation would benefit both the bikers and pedestrians. Simple things such as using lights at night and wearing bright clothing can help to increase visibility for cyclists and other road users.

Being aware of cyclists and their routes is also the responsibility of pedestrians. Classes on cycle maintenance, road regulations and laws, equipment and road etiquette would help reduce bicycle and pedestrian accidents around campus. Bikes should also be readily available, possibly through a rental system similar to those that have been introduced in some traffic-clogged cities around the world.

Campuses should have a bicycle infrastructure, and colleges should have provisions for both cyclists and pedestrians to share the same spaces. According to the American Journal of Public Health, cycle lanes help reduce the risk of accident and injury by up to 50%. Universities that have implemented bike lanes, such as the University of California, have been successful in encouraging their students to cycle more with greater responsibility.

Bicycles also need to be parked and stored, and campuses should add these facilities to their programs if they intend to increase the number of cyclists within college grounds. Organizing clubs, events and rides can bring students together with a common interests. Cycling is more than just a mode of transport for many; it is a hobby and a way of life. These initiatives will help reduce the reliance on driving to college and increase overall awareness and safety among student cyclists.

The cycling helmet can save your life, but it doesn’t look good and tends to ruin your hair… Astro Teller.

Jacob Maslow is the founder and editor of Legal Scoops.