Oct 042009
 
Authors: Vince Crespin

The CSU Police Department may be looking at a five-year high number of traffic accidents involving bicyclists this year if the current rate of accidents — five this semester alone — remains steady.

Since 2006, 35 bike-versus-car accidents have been reported on campus, including 15 last year, and CSUPD officer and member of the CSU Campus Bicycle Advisory Committee Scott Anthony said “near misses” complaints are not recorded, so the frequency of accidents could be even higher.

However, due to such a high number of registered bikers in an area the size of the CSU campus — more than 16,600 in the past three years — Anthony said the number of accidents is not unusual.

“CSU campus has a high usage of bikes in a relatively small area, leading to a higher number of reported accidents,” Anthony said.

Of the 35 reports since 2006, 19 have been deemed the motorist’s fault, and 16 the bicyclist’s fault, and Anthony said during his time as a patrol officer, many of the accidents he saw resulted from an error committed by the cyclist.

“Motorists can’t read (bicyclists’) minds out there on the road. If they let them know through hand signals and eye contact, the likelihood of a crash will decrease,” Anthony said.

Motorists often cite confusion over how to regard bicyclists on the road, Anthony said, and there are a few things everyone should remember about cyclists: bicyclists, by law, are considered vehicles and are entitled to their share of the road and must obey the same rules as a motor vehicle.

Dawit Assefa, a freshman undeclared seeking business, said some cyclists are more educated on the rules of the road than others.

“It seems like there are some bikers that know their surroundings and are cautious, while others seem to think they have the right of way; that isn’t the case,” Assefa said.

Junior Stephanie Slimak, an equine science major, knows from personal experience what it’s like to be in a bike accident with a car. In April of last year, Slimack was heading west on Plum Street when she was hit on her rear wheel and sent over the top of the car. She ended up in the hospital and on pain medication a week before finals.

“My situation could have been avoided — as well as so many others — if both drivers and bikers knew the rules and were courteous to each other,” Slimak said.

While every four-way stop on campus is a possible location for an accident, Anthony listed several intersections that are most problematic: the four way stops at Plum Street and Meridian Avenue, University Drive and Meridian Avenue, Pitkin Street and West Drive and University Drive and West Drive.

Although possible solutions to the problem have been widely discussed, Anthony said a reconfiguration of campus bike routes is currently being considered. He added that the CSU Campus Bicycle Advisory Committee, formed earlier this year to improve biking on campus, is working to map out new ways to keep cyclists and cars away from each other.

Staff writer Vince Crespin can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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