Cycle safely on campus

By Lorna Hartman, Staff Writer

Photo by: Jade Raymond
Students Lauren Reyes and Kari Toms use bikes to get around campus.

For the fifth consecutive year, Washington state was recently named the number one “Bicycle Friendly State” in the country by the League of American Bicyclists for its extensive accommodations for riding, as well as for legislative efforts to include bike trails and lanes as part of traffic and community planning.

The EWU campus has areas for bike riding and rules for safety where cars, bicycles and pedestrians frequently cross paths.

In general, bicycles are subject to the same state and city laws that apply to car and motorcycle traffic, according to the EWU recreational vehicle policy, but the policy lists some exceptions for campus use.

Bikes can be ridden on walkways surrounding the mall area and the area around Showalter Hall as well as between Science Hall and parking lot 3 as long as they are operated in a safe manner and are in compliance with state and campus regulations.

Bicyclists must yield to pedestrians on sidewalks and in crosswalks, according to Washington state law. The law also says that pedestrians must obey traffic signals and traffic control devices unless a traffic director or police officer directs them to do differently.

The EWU bicycle policy does not require helmets for cyclists on campus. According to the Washington Department of Transportation website, neither the state of Washington nor the city of Cheney has a helmet requirement law, although some Washington cities do.

“In our society, we always drive on the right side of the road, so people tend to walk on the right side of the sidewalk. It’s good to be aware of that,” said TJ Ewen, EWU police officer and head of the campus bike patrol.

The EWU campus police office has taken 10 reports of bike theft so far this school year, the third week of September through the last week of March. Last year, eight bicycles were reported stolen for the same time period and only nine bicycle thefts were reported for the entire 2011-2012 school year.

Eileen Hyatt, head of programs and education for the Spokane Bicycling Club, recommends a Kryptonite brand U-lock or a cable lock. Hyatt locks her bicycle with a cable about three quarters of an inch thick.

Hyatt recommends that riders announce themselves in some way when passing pedestrians, such as saying “Passing on the left” or using a bell.

Ewen said, “The biggest complaints [about bicycles] are people riding their bikes on the sidewalks when there’s a bike lane to use … You can use the sidewalks for bikes [on campus], but a lot of times we encounter bike riders that have headphones in, or they’re talking on the cellphone.”

He said that these riders are often not fully aware of the people around them and unintentionally cut people off, sometimes almost hitting them.

“The bigger you are, the more you yield to those who are vulnerable,” Hyatt said.

“Make yourself as visible as possible and ride predictably,” said Laura Sandt, program specialist for the Pedestrian Bicycle and Information Center, in an article for Bicycling magazine.

“The predictable part is to let people know what you’re going to do before you do it,” said Hyatt. “Use hand signals. Ride on the right side. … Obey traffic lights. That’s being predictable.”