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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    UAPD to crack down on bike safety

    Bike riders and pedestrians travel yesterday afternoon between the Science-Engineering Library and the Henry Koffler building as a police vehicle sits at a stop sign in the distance. UAPD is now making efforts to enforce biking and pedestrian laws in light of the number of traffic accidents on campus.
    Bike riders and pedestrians travel yesterday afternoon between the Science-Engineering Library and the Henry Koffler building as a police vehicle sits at a stop sign in the distance. UAPD is now making efforts to enforce biking and pedestrian laws in light of the number of traffic accidents on campus.

    Intoxicated bike riders, ignorant pedestrians and careless drivers lead to a high number of traffic accidents on campus, UAPD officials said.

    To combat the problem, University of Arizona Police Department officials said they will be taking efforts to minimize traffic hazards and congestion in an attempt to increase safety.

    However, since law doesn’t prevent bikers from riding intoxicated, police officers can only write citations if the riders engage in traffic violations, said officer Andrew Valenzuela of the UAPD safety prevention office.

    Although pedestrians and bicyclists can receive citations for state statute violations, such as jaywalking, UAPD educates students more than citing them, Valenzuela said.

    But the dangerous combination of pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles that don’t follow the rules is student safety concern, said Joe VanOpd orp, a non-degree-seeking graduate student.

    One of the biggest problems is pedestrians assume cars will stop when they walk into the street without looking, although this is against the law, VanOpdorp said.

    According to A.R.S. 28-792, pedestrians “”shall not suddenly leave any curb or place of safety and walk or run in to the path of a vehicle that is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield.””

    In 2005, there were 16 bicycle-car and pedestrian-car accidents with injuries on the UA campus, according to UAPD records.

    A total of 361 accidents involving all types of conveyances occurred on campus last year, records stated. The total number of bike and pedestrian accidents with or without injuries not reported.

    “”I used to bike until it became too hazardous,”” said Jayne Turconi, a prospective UA medical student. “”I’ve seen people get hit (by cars).””

    One of the more dangerous roads, North Park Avenue, is “”bad all the way around”” since the street is narrow, Valenzuela said.

    In those areas, UAPD sends out motorcycle officers to patrol, Valenzuela said.

    “”Motorcycle officers work very hard at enforcing pedestrian laws and bicyclist laws,”” he said. “”They’re more mobile.””

    Valenzuela said if intoxicated cyclists are caught violating traffic laws, officers will not simply let them go with a ticket. Instead, they will make sure the cyclists gets home safely by calling for an ambulance, if necessary.

    “”When we make contact, we have taken them into our care,”” Valenzuela said.

    Another issue is students are unaware that bicyclists must obey the same laws as cars, such as stopping at traffic lights and going the right way on a one-way street, VanOpdorp said.

    The UAPD reminds students about bike safety every year at orientation, as well as at safety fairs on campus, including one coming up in October, and in the residence halls on a regular basis, Valenzuela said.

    “”We beg and plead every year with the same message,”” Valenzuela said. “”Wear helmets, use lighting equipment on bikes at night and, of course, obey traffic laws.””

    UAPD will be working with the Tucson Police Department in a “”Back to School”” safety initiative by sending out more patrol cars.

    Being safer can prevent tragedy on both sides, VanOpdorp said.

    Van Opdord said in an accident, the driver’s life is changed as much as the pedestrian and the bicyclist.

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