Vehicular traffic, weather conditions and pedestrians can make biking to campus a stressful commute.
Practicing safety while riding can reduce the dangers of sharing the roads, suggests Sgt. Mike Childress, administrator of the Bicycle Education and Enforcement Program provided by the CSU Police Department.
“I think having a lot of buses, cars, bicyclists and pedestrians in the same area at certain parts of the day will certainly cause a lot of problems on any campus,” said David Hancock, a junior business major. “That makes having enforcement, education, engineering and common courtesy big parts of creating a safe place.”
CSU’s bike system is safe, effective and one of the better ones nationwide, Childress said. He estimates that there are over 15,000 bikes on the one-square-mile main campus everyday.
All bikes ridden or parked on CSU’s campus must be registered with CSUPD. The bike license costs $5 and the fine for not having one is $8.
Bicycles are allowed in the road, in bike lanes or on bike paths. Sidewalks adjacent to roads are reserved for pedestrian traffic only.
“When I was a freshman I rode my bike to school, but the lanes are so small that I was afraid I would be hit by a car,” Hancock said. “So I stopped riding my bike to class.”
Common causes of bike accidents are mechanical failure, speed, weather conditions or collisions with pedestrians, the city of Fort Collins Web site, at fcgov.com, reports.
Following safety guidelines and the rules of the road can decrease the number of accidents and make CSU’s bike system more effective, Childress said.
Keeping bikes maintained by making sure the tires are filled with air, the brakes are in working condition and the chain is waxed, can increase safety.
Wear a helmet. The Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute reports that one in eight bicycle injuries result in a brain injury and wearing a helmet can prevent 88 percent of brain injuries.
The university requires that bikers wear a headlight on their bike or person as well as a rear red reflector beginning 30 minutes after sunset.
“I see too many cyclists without lights. If we’re going to be a positive influence on our city we should think of safety,” said Nate Peterson, a graduate student in forest sciences.
Ride in the same direction as the traffic and obey street signs. The top two enforcement priorities for the BEEP staff are violations of dismount zones and stop signs, Childress said. The third highest priority is opening car doors into bike lane traffic.
Breaking before reaching icy road conditions can help to increase stopping distance on slick areas during winter conditions.
“I have had wrecks on the bike path, it is inevitable,” said Frank Towers, a professor in the history department. “One occurred during icy conditions. I probably shouldn’t have been riding that day.”
Bike accidents can be reported to the CSUPD located at Green Hall. If the accident occurs as a result of a safety violation the biker risks receiving a double fine for that violation.
“I believe that every student on campus should know that we are all counting on each other to be courteous and safe on our campus streets,” Hancock said. “Each person has to make their own safety decisions, but if we look out for each other, then we will be much better off than before.”
Biking can be healthy, cheap, environmentally responsible and quick way to get to the university, and it is suggested that practicing safety and sharing the roads appropriately will reduce the chance of accidents happening.
“I have been biking ever since I got here (1999), its just one of the things people seem to do here,” Towers said. “I bought a bike at a pawn shop for about $100, and it worked out really well.”