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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: Traffic laws are for everyone to follow, including bicyclists

As a college student, I’m lucky to have a car. It makes traveling to the store or visiting my family much easier, but I know it is also impractical for day-to-day use around campus between classes. So, on school days, I ride my bike.

I completely understand and agree with the argument that drivers need to be more wary of bicyclists. It’s unbelievable the number of times I have almost been hit by a car, because the driver did not think to look before making a right turn, or blew through a stop sign.

This being said, drivers are not the only ones making traffic violations. Bicyclists have to be held accountable too.

I have probably been guilty of breaking traffic laws on my bike myself. On a bike, it seems so easy to squeeze between cars or pedestrians to run a light, and it’s especially easy to coast through stop signs without actually stopping or slowing down at all. If this is how you choose to ride your bike on campus, then drivers and pedestrians cannot be held accountable for the resulting traffic accidents.

According to Parking and Transportation Services’ Parking and Traffic Regulations for Non-motorized Transportation, “Rules of the road applicable to automobiles on streets/roadways/highways shall apply to bicycles operated on bicycle routes/paths in the same manner as they apply to automobiles operated on streets/roadways/highways.” Put simply, bicyclists need to follow the same rules drivers do. There’s no excuse for a driver who blows through a stop sign without yielding or giving the right of way to a bicyclist or another driver who has already stopped, so why should bicyclists be exempt from this?

Drivers cannot be expected to stop on a dime if a bicyclist suddenly flies past a stop sign or makes a sudden turn without signaling. I have slammed on my brakes for bicyclists who did not even look for oncoming traffic when they decided to cross Park Avenue without stopping. What if I had been going a little bit faster, or looking at my phone or the radio? When they did not have the right of way, if I had braked just a second too late, would it have been my fault? Making maneuvers like that is completely the fault of irresponsible bicyclists and is essentially a death wish; one day, a driver won’t be looking when he or she doesn’t expect a bike to be crossing the road.

PTS’s regulations also state, “Whenever a bicycle route/path crosses a pathway used for pedestrian travel, the operator of a bicycle shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian using any such pathway.” This seems like an obvious traffic regulation. Pedestrians at a crosswalk should be given the right of way, yet it constantly seems like pedestrian-bicyclist collisions are being narrowly avoided. This can be the pedestrian’s fault — jaywalking is all too common on campus — but it can also be the result of bicyclists squeezing through wherever they feel they can fit.

I believe many bicyclists simply do not know the rules they are expected to follow, which leads to collisions and pissed-off drivers. The UA should spend more time promoting safe bicycling and informing people about traffic laws — both on and off campus — that will reduce accidents.

This does not excuse cars from being wary of non-motor vehicles, however. The argument has to go both ways, and everyone has to respect and watch out for other vehicles on the road, because no one is exempt from traffic laws.

Follow Nicole Rochon on Twitter.

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