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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Not on a bike? Stay out of the bike lane

    Talyor Kessinger columnist
    Talyor Kessinger
    columnist

    To everyone who regularly blocks bike lanes: This is for you. Yes, I know your cell phone conversation is too important for you to be aware of those around you. I know you’re too special to mix with the lowly plebians on the pedestrian paths. I know your four friends absolutely have to walk in a single rank, blocking the entire lane. And I know you think it’s okay to act like a 4-year-old and not look before darting into a busy thoroughfare. But please, hear me out.

    Consider the possibility that perhaps someone needs the lane more than you do. Take into account the fact that you have wide swaths of unexplored pedestrian territory all to yourself whereas I’m confined to a very small spectrum of possible routes. Some places, like the Speedway Boulevard underpass to Fremont Avenue, don’t have lanes for us at all.

    And finally, remember that some of us simply need bicycles to get to our classes on time because three required 400-level math classes are one after the other and on opposite ends of campus. (No, I’m not bitter at all.)

    Add all of these things together, and it certainly seems like you have a duty to stick to the pedestrian walkways.

    Granted, few pedestrians are really that bad about it. But many contribute to the problem in small ways. And as someone who recently picked up bike riding, I can honestly say I’m scared as all hell to mount my bike between the hours of 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. as a direct result of the rudeness of some pedestrians.

    You, as a pedestrian, can look around, stop and start moving, and turn much more effectively than I can. Take advantage of these abilities to avoid cyclists at all costs. Cyclists are exponentially more likely to suffer nasty spills if we constantly have to weave and swerve to avoid careless walkers. And if we fail to avoid them, things only get worse for us: Bike-pedestrian collisions usually end with the cyclist at fault, thanks to the numerous “”YIELD TO PEDS”” signs around campus.

    Cyclists at the UA are in a precarious position. Motorists and pedestrians have all sorts of regulations to protect their rights, and in particular there are countless laws intended to protect those on foot from those on bikes. For example, there are designated “”walk your bike”” areas but no designated “”bike, don’t walk”” zones. That’s what a bike lane is supposed to be, but if that were the case, I wouldn’t be writing this column.

    Failure to respect the bike lanes ought to be tantamount to jaywalking. You wouldn’t take a leisurely stroll through the middle of a busy street – so why on earth would you do it in the middle of a bike lane?

    If there are any measures to protect bikers against pedestrians, I’ve neither heard of them nor seen them enforced. Search the Police Beat archives and see for yourself. But fines certainly should be implemented for pedestrians who walk in a bike path for any reason other than to cross as quickly as possible. It’s a necessary evil, and you know what they say about necessary evils: They’re necessary.

    If you don’t like the idea of a fine, then here’s a quick, clean algorithm you can follow to avoid invoking the ire of the thousands of cyclists on campus. Always look both ways to ensure no bike traffic is coming, and cross bike paths quickly to avoid us. It’s a surprisingly simple set of rules, and there’s no reason why you should fail to uphold them. At the very least, try. And should you fail to do so, be apologetic, not indignant.

    To paraphrase “”Boondock Saints,”” these are not polite suggestions. These are codes of behavior everyone can embrace. You are not 4 years old, and you are never important enough to neglect showing the courtesies that cyclists around you deserve. Bikers and pedestrians shouldn’t be at odds with each other; we should be uniting against our common enemy, the dreaded skateboarder.

    You know these things. Now it’s time to act like it and step off the bike path.

    Taylor Kessinger is a junior majoring in math, philosophy and physics. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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