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Why Bikers Should Pedal On Out

 

On a recent Monday afternoon, I decided to go for a three-mile run around campus. I laced up my running shoes, plugged in my earphones and jetted out of Greek Town. It was a beautiful day: the perfect weather for running. Near the student center, I crossed the street towards the Agriculture building. Suddenly, I heard a faint “WATCH OUT,” which grew louder as I approached. I looked right, but before I could get a good grasp of the situation, I was down. On the ground. In front of the student center.

 

I opened my eyes and saw papers strewn everywhere. A man and his bike were lying by me. I finally realized what happened: I was run over by a bicycle. It turns out that as I was crossing the street to near the sidewalk, a biker was coming from the opposite direction to ride his bike on the sidewalk. We made contact at the corner of the sidewalk.

 

It might as well have been on the jumbo-tron at a Bull’s game, because crowds of students gathered around to ask if we were OK. We weren’t hurt – just permanently scarred by the extreme embarrassment we had just encountered. The boy repeatedly apologized to me, and we both walked away from the incident, attempting to shake off what had just happened.

 

Still, I was pretty irked about this situation. It was 3 p.m. on a Monday afternoon --not a campus rush hour, but not a barren desert either. Students were still walking to class, which meant that sidewalks were extremely packed. What was this dude thinking? Did he not know how to turn his handlebars? It made me wonder how on earth bikers are allowed to ride on the sidewalk. Maybe I shouldn’t be running on a packed sidewalk either, but I’ve never heard of any rules prohibiting that. Besides, I don’t have to maneuver any object besides my body, which makes running into someone much less probable.

 

So I sat, wondering why this possibly could have happened to me. Let’s get something straight, folks. If you ride a bike on campus, learn the rules. Thousands of people fill these sidewalks and streets on a daily basis. The sidewalk is already crowded with feet; we don’t need your wheels.

 

Bikers on campus are relentless. They’re everywhere. They block the road when you drive, they whiz past when you walk and they knock you over when you’re on a run. Though I had a bruise the size of the continental U.S. on my right hip, I was lucky not to suffer a concussion or worse.

 

Bikers should also learn proper etiquette. Invest in a bell or shout when you’re approaching someone. Do something to make it obvious that you’re speeding in their direction, faster than they can run. There are formal bicycle laws that every bicyclist on or off campus should read before pedaling away on those two evil wheels. (I still have hard feelings about this day, no matter how much of a humorous visual it provides.)

 

According to Missouri Bicycle Laws, bicycles are allowed on sidewalks, but pedestrians have the right of way. Bicyclists must alert pedestrians by voice, horn or bell. Bikes are allowed on sidewalks unless they are in busy downtown areas (like campus during lunchtime). For the sake of bicyclists and pedestrians, keep your wheels off the walking path.

 

Under Missouri Bicycle Laws, bicyclists are allowed to ride on the roads.
There, they fall under the same rules as drivers. They must signal when turning, stop at stop signs and ride under the speed limit. They must have brakes that work, as well as a front light and back reflector between sunset and sunrise.

 

Bicyclists who disobey these laws are, like drivers, subject to ticketing. Normally, the fines are less serious than a driver’s would be. Regardless, though, bicyclists should obey the rules of the road in order to prevent themselves and pedestrians from getting injured.

 

Bottom line: You wouldn’t get in a car without learning the rules of the road. You shouldn’t do so with a bike, either.

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