Prioritizing safety of commuters

A number of local accidents call attention to problem areas near campus.

by Daily Editorial Board

The University of Minnesota should make commuting around campus more biker-friendly.

Bicycling to the University can be a healthy, economic means of transportation for students. Those who bike to and from class rely on the University’s bike-lane system, and although cycling on campus has its benefits, the growing trend calls for an attention to safety.

According to Minnesota Department of Health statistics, there were 6,227 bicycle-related injuries in Minnesota in 2010.  Since then, Minneapolis has increased its on-street bikeway network by 75 percent, and from 2007-2011, bicycling has increased 47 percent.

The University is one of the highest areas for on-street bicycle traffic, and according to a 2011 city of Minneapolis biking report, the Washington Avenue Bridge is listed as the top bicycling location, followed by the intersection of 15th Avenue and University Avenue Southeast — a block away from where University student Kimberly Hull was hit by a truck and killed last April. This semester, another student was hit at the intersection of Fourth Street and 10th Avenue Southeast — the same intersection where another student, Caitlin Arnett, was hit by a bus in 2008. One-third of all U.S. bicycle fatalities occurred at an intersection in 2009.

Making the campus safer for bicyclists is up to the University, and students can help protect themselves by practicing effective safety precautions like wearing a helmet or using bike lights. Along with biker safety, the University should work to make the deadly intersections that run down University Avenue and Fourth Street better equipped with well-constructed bike lanes so riders don’t mesh with traffic.