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6 Reasons Why the Walking/Bike Lanes Next to Hillman Are The. Worst. Thing. Ever.

You might have noticed that Pittsburgh has been putting a lot of effort into becoming bike-friendly in the last few years. Major roads now feature designated bike lanes and buses allow riders to attach their two-wheeled vehicles to the front of the bus when their legs need a break from pedaling. These efforts are all fine and dandy and certainly are appreciated by frequent bikers. I mean, who doesn’t want to lessen their carbon footprint? Anything that contributes to the safety of bikers, drivers and walkers too is obviously a necessity for all of us to travel peacefully.

In addition to these efforts, the university recently tackled a frequently traveled path on our campus: the sidewalks in between Posvar Hall and Hillman Library. Just a couple of weeks ago, white walking men and green bicycle images arrows were painted on either half of the sidewalk, obviously indicating that walkers should stick to one side of the sidewalk and bikes to the other. As someone who lives in South Oakland and thus uses this sidewalk several times a day to get to class, I’ve seen and heard the public’s general reaction to this seemingly minor change, and it seems that people are NOT pleased. Most of the complaints I heard originally made me laugh (since most of them revolved around some of the most awkward encounters ever), but thinking about them again made me realize the safety issues with this new feature.

 

1. Bicycles are considered VEHICLES.

This is why they made the lanes on the streets, people! For YEARS, the biggest complaint from bikers was that they weren’t treated the same as cars on the road. Well, if you want to be recognized as a proper vehicle, why OH WHY is it okay to go flying along the same path so close to pedestrians and weave in and out of walking traffic in such a narrow space? Sorry, bikers, but this is not Hannah Montana: you can’t have the best of both worlds.

 

2. It really is a tight space

That path can’t be more than six feet in width. Split in half, the walkers get three feet and so do the bikers. And then you’ve got walkers walking both ways and bikers riding both ways, so really you’ve got a foot and a half either way?!? MADNESS.

 

3. Some of these bikers are F L Y I N G.

Obviously bikes travel faster than the average walking human. That’s a given. But some of the bikers who come straight of the road don’t realize they need to SLOW THE HECK DOWN on a sidewalk where people are supposed to be walking. In a tight space like that, any sort of accidental swerve could result in a pretty serious accident. And when there’s more than one coming at once? Feels a little like this (^)

4. And walkers really aren’t paying attention.

I’m totally guilty of this as well. We stare at our phones constantly, and the minute or two on this path is no exception. Whether it’s to send paragraphs of texts to our besties or to skip a song on Spotify, just looking down for a split second could determine your fate of bumping into a follow pedestrian or subjecting yourself to the peril of the bike lane. If walkers and bikers are expected to share this small space, people NEED to really pay attention to where they’re going.

5. Walking on the left side feels SO WRONG.

If you’re walking on the path from South Bouquet Street and towards Cathy, you’re instructed by the painted white men on the concrete to walk on the left side of the sidewalk. I don’t know about you, but somewhere along the way it was ingrained into my mind to automatically walk on the right side of sidewalk, hallway, stairs, etc., so literally every fiber in my being angrily protests when I force myself to stay to the left. Seriously, who walks on the left of any sort of walkway? Were you raised by wolves or something?

6. …and no one really follows the signs, anyway.
 People walk in the “bike lane.” Bikers weave around walkers. Sometimes, if there aren’t too many people around me, I rebel against these traffic laws and walk on the right just to feel some kind of normalcy. I always feel badly for the painters who worked hard on the lanes, but no one really follows these rules, like, ever, so it just results in people attempting to dodge each other and aggressive eye rolls. This could all be avoided, however, if bikes were recognized as they should be vehicles and the sidewalk was reserved for pedestrians. But for now, it looks like we’ll just have to deal with it.

Photo Credit: Author’s photos

 

 

Note: This article reflects the views of the author and in no way reflects on the views of Her Campus. 

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