Bikes and boards present danger
Bicycles on campus are dangerous and unnecessary. Not only do they add a much bulkier and faster moving obstacle to already crowded sidewalks, but many campus cyclists are completely inconsiderate of those around them. There is absolutely no reason for anyone to need to use a bicycle to move across campus. The amount of time saved by cycling practically negligible, and cycling a set distance is also a less effective exercise than walking it.
Using wheels to move about campus could cut down on travel time, but the University campus isn’t really all that big. It only takes 15 minutes, at most, to stroll from one end of campus to the other. When walking quickly, travel time may be cut to less than 10. There is plenty of time between classes to get from one building to another without resorting to lazier means.
While most students are in class or not on campus, cycling is actually faster than walking; but during the heavy rush hours (or minutes) that take place right before classes start and right after they let out, cycling is definitely a slower way to travel. When you add up the time it takes to walk to and unlock your bike when leaving one class, the time spent cycling, and the time it takes to lock up your bicycle and walk to the next class, time savings are actually in the negatives.
Heavy pedestrian traffic on sidewalks makes it difficult for those on wheels to go faster than walkers safely. Weaving around slower-moving students isn’t a good idea when traveling at higher speeds — at the risk of sounding like my mother, it is just asking for someone to get hurt. I think it is fair to say that by the time students’ first years at UH are up, most everyone is familiar with the fleeting moment of terror we all feel when a weaving biker swerves away from them at the last possible moment.
Beyond the risk of injuries, cycling through campus has an even more serious drawback — theft. It doesn’t make any sense to spend hundreds of dollars on a device that only slightly increases your punctuality. Most of us can barely afford to pay for all our textbooks.
The bottom line is that the benefits of cycling through campus are heavily outweighed by the setbacks. The only situation where having a bike on campus makes any sense is if a student lives on campus, has no car, and feels comfortable biking alone in the Third Ward to run off-campus errands. Few UH students fit into that category.
Another important thing for cyclists to keep in mind is that walking to class is simply healthier. Yes, biking quickly over long distances is a great form of exercise, but slowly pedaling behind pedestrians isn’t. Cycling burns calories at high speeds and on long rides, but neither of these apply to riding to class.
Cyclists are not the only individuals whose crazy antics leave campus pedestrians feeling unsafe and annoyed. The University’s plethora of skateboarders, long boarders, and even scooter-users usually travel through large masses of people at ridiculous speeds as well, and are as dangerous — if not more so — than cyclists.
I’m not advocating that using bicycles, skateboards, and the like be banned at UH. However, it isn’t something the University should be encouraging, and students should think twice before they decide to bring their bike to campus.
Casey Goodwin is a mechanical engineering sophomore and may be reached at [email protected].