At the University of Arkansas we don’t just allow biking on campus; we encourage it.
Riding a bike is great for so many reasons. Biking is a zero emission way of traveling, helping our University reach our Carbon Neutrality goals. Bikes reduce the number of cars on campus, minimizing traffic and allowing the bike-rider to avoid the pains of campus parking. Riding a bike also keeps you in shape and makes you look really cool. Seriously, what’s not to love?
The U of A has dedicated itself to promoting bike riding on campus, culminating in the League of American Bicyclists recognizing us as a Silver Bicycle Friendly University in Spring 2016. Since the award, the U of A has continued to promote bicycling on and around campus.
But before we descend in biking anarchy, let me remind you of the importance of behaving respectfully and safely towards everyone sharing the campus walkways.
To be a responsible cyclist – the kind that spreads peace and love instead of running people over – follow these 9 Bike Safety Guidelines
1. Pedestrians have the right of way
We’ve all been there: you’re rolling along a path toward where it is crossed by another pathway and some walker is almost at the intersection. As tempting as it may be to give your bike a couple extra pumps and whiz through the intersection a few nanoseconds before the walker, to do so is a recipe for disaster. Even if you avoid a collision, that sort of narrow flyby is liable to give the poor pedestrian a heart attack. Instead, act like a cool kid and slow down, giving the pedestrian the right of way.
2. Walk your bike in high traffic areas
Although the Walk-Only zone has been abolished, this is not permission to pretend crowded areas are obstacle courses for you to practice your biking agility. If you ever find yourself in a spot where you cannot ride with a comfortable 3 feet between you and all pedestrians, dismount. Walk your bike until the traffic clears and then you can continue on your ride
3. Alert by voice when passing
Whenever you are about to pass someone, let them know. While bike bells are highly effective in some places, at the U of A we recommend alerting people of your passing with your voice. Simply give a polite “On your [left or right]” and look for some sort of indication that you were heard. You can even sing your warning if you wish.
4. Use hand signals to indicate turns or intentions to stop
It’s nice to let people know what you’re planning to do, especially when you are moving 4x faster than them. Utilizing hand signals allows people both in front and behind you to know when you are planning to turn, preventing accidents. Plus, it makes you look legit.
5. Keep a reasonable speed
What is a reasonable speed, you may ask? To answer that question, consider this scenario. Irresponsible Biker Joe is sailing down the sidewalk between Hillside and Chem, going as fast as he can because no one else is around. Suddenly, Very Popular Jane, checking her very popular twitter (and therefore not paying attention to her surroundings) steps in front of Joe. If Joe had been going a “reasonable” speed, he would have had plenty of time to stop. Unfortunately, he was not.
A reasonable speed is one that gives you time to react to changes in your environment without crashing or causing an accident. Remember that campus is full of unexpected hazards (including texting students) and adjust your speed accordingly.
6. When in doubt, err on the side of caution. Being slowed down by a pedestrian is much better than accidentally hitting one.
Nothing gives bikers a bad name like nailing a pedestrian. To avoid this, err on the side of caution. If you yell out that you are passing, and the person doesn’t acknowledge, slow down and navigate the pass cautiously. There is always a chance the walker is wearing headphones and can’t hear you. Likewise, if a crossing at an intersection seems close, wait instead of shooting the gap. A few moments of slowing down (or even stopping) is better than an accident – which, all other things aside, will slow you down even longer.
7. When using streets, watch for vehicles and follow traffic rules.
Sometimes when campus is crowded with pedestrians, it is more convenient to take to the streets. If you choose to do this, you must follow traffic laws. Basically just pretend you are little car, and act like you are driving. This means you follow the flow of traffic, stop at stop signs, and don’t weave around cars.
8. Always wear a helmet
Fun fact: your brain is important. In fact, most scientists agree that it is rather difficult to live without one. As such, it is important to protect your head (which contains your brain) from any serious injury. This is why helmets were invented. As an added bonus, everyone looks more attractive when they wear helmets. Don’t believe me? Take a look at this viking sculpture and tell me I’m wrong.
9. Keep your bike in good repair.
To enjoy riding your bike, it is generally a good idea to make sure your bike works. Watch this video of a quick check to do of your bike before you ride, and you shouldn’t run into any problems. If you’re bike does need repair, there are several bike shops around Fayetteville that are qualified to help, including the UREC Outdoors Bike Shop at the U of A HYPER.
Increasing bike ridership on campus minimizes traffic, frees up parking, and reduces our campus carbon-footprint. We encourage all students, staff, and faculty to try out this fun healthy way to get around.
Learn more about bikes on campus and biking resources at http://bike.uark.edu
Have more questions? Feel free to stop by the OFS on Harmon Drive anytime during the week, and we will be happy to fill you in.