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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Silent traffic swelling

    As enrollment at UA climbs, cyclists and pedestrians are forced to dodge each other in increasingly congested corridors, ramping up the risk of collisions.

    Minor accidents involving non-motorized vehicles on campus usually end in an exchange of words, and then go unreported, said Sgt. Eugene Mejia, public information officer for the University of Arizona Police Department.

    So far this year, only one collision between a cyclist and a pedestrian has been reported to UAPD, and no such incidents were reported in 2006, Mejia said.

    While many non-motorized traffic snarls go undocumented, the precarious blend of cyclists and pedestrians is all too evident at 10 minutes to the hour on a typical weekday, as hoards of foot traffic swarm the UA Mall, perilously braving the silent bicycle crossfire.

    With enrollment at an all-time high, there appears to be little relief from the congestion.

    “”There are certain zones on campus that are extra congested, and it’s important to watch those,”” said Steve Holland, director of UA Risk Management and Safety.

    Morgan Jones, a pre-physiology freshman, took a minor spill on her bike when she accidentally bumped into another cyclist in heavy traffic in front of the Chemistry building yesterday.

    “”I think it’s dangerous,”” Jones said. “”I think there should be separation between people on foot and on bikes.””

    Elaine Ulrich, a physics doctoral student in physics, said she employs traditional hand signals to warn traffic of her turning intentions when she’s riding her bicycle.

    “”There are a lot of cyclists who have really bad manners,”” Ulrich said. “”It’s not clear who’s supposed to yield to who.””

    Alex Fay, a physics junior, said cyclists are sometimes unwilling to yield to pedestrians.

    “”It seems like there are a lot of places on campus where bicyclists are resigned to staying in the bike lane, and that’s frustrating,”” Fay said.

    Kendra Rupp, a religious studies senior, suggested that people on foot should yield to bike traffic.

    “”It’s more (that) pedestrians should look out,”” she said.

    Signs are located in strategic locations around campus to delineate boundaries between bicycle and pedestrian paths, said Bill Davidson, marketing manager for UA Parking and Transportation Services.

    Parking and Transportation Services recently spent approximately $171,000 on bike and pedestrian safety measures including lane stripes for dedicated bike lanes, ground decals and additional bike racks, Davidson said.

    Nicole Riesgo, an education junior, pointed out crosswalks and bike route signs lining the Mall.

    “”I think it’s well marked,”” Riesgo said. “”It’s just a lack of care and a lack of attention by most of the bicycles and pedestrians around here.””

    PTS issues warnings and levies fines against cyclists for offenses such as riding on sidewalks or in restricted areas ($25), and riding without lights between sunset and sunrise ($40). It also have the authority to issue a $25 fine for walking a bicycle in a designated bike lane or bike route, according the PTS Web site.

    Since July 2007, PTS has issued 73 citations to cyclists – all of them for parking infractions, which can include blocking a wheelchair access ramp or pedestrian walkway, parking inside a university building or locking one’s bicycle to another’s, Davidson said.

    Between July 2006 and June 2007, PTS issued 189 bicycle parking citations and 222 warnings, but no tickets for moving violations, Davidson said.

    Officials from Parking and Transportations Services, UAPD and the Office of Risk Management did not indicate that there are any immediate plans in place to accommodate additional non-motorized traffic.

    David Duffy, director of Campus and Facilities Planning, did not return calls from the Daily Wildcat yesterday.

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