Cycling inside the lines

The lack of bike lanes around campus is dangerous.

The University is the third largest transportation generator in the state, surpassed only by the downtowns of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Our landlocked, urban campuses generate an estimated 80,000 arrivals each day, creating a dynamic transit environment involving several modes of transportation and several transit organizations. Alternative modes, such as biking, are promoted to make this system more efficient, but it is our opinion that the current system too often puts bicyclists in precarious situations. While safety programs such as “Helmets and Headlights” exist, the problems that cyclists face could be eased by increasing the amount of bike lanes on campus and the surrounding areas.

The recent death of a bicyclist near campus is a painful reminder that there is still work to be done to improve bicycle safety. Unfortunately, it is not as simple as painting lines. Parking and Transportation Services covers only a certain amount of territory and they don’t have free reign over sidewalks on campus. Furthermore, unlike many college towns, Dinkytown and many other student areas are outside the reach of University departments. The city of Minneapolis has jurisdiction over many roads adjoining campus, and unlike Parking and Transportation Services, its focus is broader than the University community. These obstacles can make the process for change lethargic.

However, it is our hope that the University, Minneapolis, St. Paul and Parking and Transportation Services can work together to create a more appropriate situation. If biking is prohibited on sidewalks, then the streets in certain areas need to be made into a more favorable option. A bike lane on Washington Avenue, either on the sidewalk or street, would be a tremendous improvement. Additionally, Pleasant Street and Church Street also would benefit from bike lanes. Another area of improvement is Fourth Street. Students are fined for biking the wrong way down University Avenue, but it happens because Fourth Street is not a safe alternative.

We all can do our part to ensure safe travel, such as wearing a helmet or using proper signals, but more needs to be done on the directorial side to ensure this mode of transportation is a safe and accessible way for people to travel.