Let us bike on Scholars Walk

The University of Minnesota has a new policy regarding bikes: DonâÄôt bike at all. OK, thatâÄôs not the official policy, but itâÄôs pretty close. The University has made one of its transportation arteries, the Scholars Walk, a âÄúbike-walk zone.âÄù

When I first heard about this, I assumed administration and students would ignore it, like many other traffic rules. I was wrong. The University of Minnesota Police Department is handing out $115 tickets to cyclists who disobey the dismount signs. The signs are tiny and randomly placed, so itâÄôs highly unlikely youâÄôll know youâÄôre breaking the law until a police officer hands you that pricey ticket.

ThereâÄôs a discrepancy between how UMPD pursues biking violations in pedestrian zones versus pedestrian violations in biking zones. I often see people walking in the clearly marked bike lanes on the West Bank. IâÄôve never seen a police officer yell at or ticket these pedestrians, but I have seen them yelling at and ticketing cyclists on Scholars Walk.

Now that cycling is banned there, thereâÄôs only one way to get from the river to the alumni center. That route takes you around all of the campus buildings and four blocks out of your way. If you want to ride your bike from West Bank to Akerman Hall, you have to ride around half of campus instead of taking the most direct route: Scholars Walk.

I understand that mixing bikers and pedestrians can be a safety hazard, but there are other ways of solving this problem that donâÄôt require outlawing bikes, like painted bike lanes on the Scholars Walk or a new path exclusively for cyclists.

I understand that the University might not be able to install bike lanes all over campus due to budgetary issues, but I donâÄôt understand why, with Washington Avenue shut down, the Scholars Walk has been transformed into a no-bike zone.

If the University had waited a few years for the construction on Washington Avenue to end, no one would have a problem with the Scholars Walk change.

There was no reason to shut down Scholars Walk to cyclists this year, and penalizing cyclists without penalizing pedestrians for similar violations is discriminatory.