We Need To Switch Gears: Biking Signs At RIT
by William Hirsh | published Oct. 28th, 2014
RIT is a hustling and bustling campus. When walking or riding on the Quarter Mile, people are always in a hurry to make it to their next class or to find the nearest eatery to fit in a quick lunch. Occasionally, collisions have occurred between bikers and walking pedestrians, leading to the no-biking signs we find on campus today. While I find it understandable to place these near the Infinity Quad and other areas where there can be mobs of people, the placement of signs on the long-standing biking trails outside of the Quarter Mile is confusing and unnecessary.
Biking on the Quarter Mile itself has always been frowned upon by RIT, which is why the Institute decided to put biking trails in place so that pedestrian-related injuries could be prevented and traffic on campus could be lessened. Even when looking at a recommended bike route map provided by Finance & Administration, the Quarter Mile is excluded. Rather, they suggest that bikers use the outer routes which have been set aside for them. This, however, doesn't always happen. Students in a rush to class are often inconvenienced by the fact that they have to pedal to campus and lock their bikes up an annoyingly large distance from their destination. This leads to more people breaking protocol and biking where they shouldn't, and inevitably creating a chilling effect on campus.
Lately, no-biking signs have appeared on the outer reaches of campus as well, even on the bike trails, leading to confusion and an outcry from students. A Pawprints petition was even made to address this issue. This is a classic case of inconsistent enforcement on RIT's part. Along with that, bikers and pedestrians play a role in this problem. A three-party compromise needs to be made between RIT, bikers and pedestrians.
To RIT: make up your mind on how you enforce biking on campus. I think the easiest approach for the Institute would be to not place signs in areas where bikers have always been given the opportunity to ride. Restricting biking access in these areas will just lead to more traffic congestion on campus and more people disregarding the rules which are currently in place. Alternatively, RIT could also add mandated bike lanes to certain people-heavy parts of the bike path in order to curb accidents. Ideally, these would only run near congested areas like between Gosnell and Saunders.
To bikers: respect and yield the right of way to pedestrians. RIT even has a section online that goes over the Bicyclist's Rights and the Rules of the Road. As a person who has bicycled on campus, I understand the frustration you feel when pedestrians walk haphazardly and almost cause accidents, but negligent bikers whizzing by me without warning has been equally of issue.
To pedestrians: be more aware of your surroundings. It's easy to zone out when playing music or to cluster amongst your friends to talk while on campus; just be mindful of bikers and leave space for them to pass you. Stay to the right side of a path so they can pass you on your left.
The way to improve this situation is not through rampant, overly broad restriction but through specific compromise between each party involved. Until then, ride on.