As the temperature drops, so does the number of bicyclists on campus. However, for students living on or nearby campus, riding a bike to school may simply be the only option and bicyclists should be aware of the increased hazards.
Boise Police Department (BPD) reported there were six motorist/cyclist collisions near campus in 2010, six in 2011 and approximately four in 2012, though the data is incomplete for 2012. One of the accidents in 2012 resulted in the bicyclist being taken to the hospital by ambulance.
Lieutenant Tony Plott from the BPD said these accidents often occur because of inattentiveness and ignorance regarding the proper protocols. Plott encourages students to increase their awareness.
“It’s good to brush up on the laws. Be aware and make sure your bicycle is lit at night, and simply don’t take unnecessary risks,” Plott said. “Generally slow down around campus. I think that is what hurts people more than anything.”
Plott advised motorists to increase their awareness as well.
“It’s a college campus. There are going to be bikers around and there are going to be bikers going too fast,” Plott said. “A biker-motorist collision never ends well for the bicyclist, even if they are wearing a helmet and safety equipment.”
Philip Hobbs, an environmental and occupational health major and bike mechanic for the Cycle Learning Center, said he feels as though the bike accidents will decrease due to the cold weather, but said there were numerous incidents during the summer and beginning of the semester due to sheer volume of bicyclists.
Hobbs suggested cyclists ride defensively.
“People should ride within their abilities and in such a way that is appropriate with where they are riding. Don’t ride against traffic or on the sidewalk in a high speed especially with a lot of pedestrians around,” Hobbs said. “People should be more considerate and aware of multimodal users.”
Plott and Hobbs both encouraged bicyclists to avoid riding with headphones and slow down through campus.
Kaili Smalley, a 19-year-old sophomore majoring in pre-dental and biology, described an experience when a motorist did not see her while she was in a crosswalk and bumped her backpack with his or her car.
“Bicycle and pedestrian safety is terrible on campus,” Smalley said. “Something needs to change and we need to raise awareness.”
More information regarding bicycle safety and laws can be found at police.cityofboise.org. Employees at the Cycle Learning Center are also eager to talk about bike safety and have safety equipment such as helmets in stock.
Cycling and driving laws in Boise:
- Every person who operates a bike must follow the rules of the road.
- All bikes must be able to stop within 25 feet at 10 mph on clean dry pavement.
- There must be a reflector on the rear of the bike or rider visible from 300 feet away, and a white light on the front visible from 500 feet away.
- One hand must be on the handle bars at all times. Never carry anything that restricts your vision or control.
- Always ride with the traffic unless otherwise indicated by an official sign or road marking.
- When a cyclist is over taking a pedestrian, the cyclist must give an audible warning. Cyclists are required to yield to pedestrians.
- A bicyclist has the same rights and responsibilities as a pedestrian when riding in a crosswalk or on the sidewalk.
- A cyclist must signal when turning or changing lanes. The hand signal must be continuous.
- Whenever possible, motorists must give a minimum safe distance of three feet when passing a cyclist.
- Harassment towards any cyclist is strictly prohibited.
- Motorists are to yield to all crosswalks.
- When a pedestrian is in a crosswalk, motorists must wait until the pedestrian has safely made his or her way through the entire crosswalk.
- Ignoring these laws may lead to a misdemeanor which could result in up to a $5,000 fine.