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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Opinion

Cyclists, pedestrians need to stay in their lane


Cyclists and pedestrians have been at odds for a long time, as they both refuse to share the sidewalk. This disparity between the needs of the pedestrians and the cyclists plays out on campus everyday as students try to get to class as quickly as possible. Improvements can be made to suit both cyclists and pedestrians. | Fiona Legesse/The Cougar

The University of Houston is known for many things, but one of the little-discussed areas for improvement is cyclists.

UH is a commuter campus, which means there is only so much parking to go around. Many students try to find ways around parking on campus, and some might consider Uber or catching the bus to campus.

But some students choose the road less traveled and resort to riding their bike to campus. This is dangerous because of the busy streets that surround UH’s campus. But their health is not the focus of this article. It’s the well-being of all the other students who walk on campus that needs to be discussed.

Where the sidewalk ends

Cyclists have a tendency to be selfish when it comes to sharing the road or sidewalk. At some point, everyone has encountered a Lance Armstrong wannabe on the road. He’s the guy dressed in tight biker garb with an expensive bike that he probably bought a couple of weeks ago.

The reason we notice them isn’t because of their bike riding abilities, but because of their inability to use a sidewalk. They take up a whole lane and make cars move around them.

Houston has laws that prohibit bike riders using sidewalks in business districts, like the Galleria and Downtown areas. But UH has no rules that prohibit sidewalk usage.

However, UH does encourage cyclists to behave in a safe manner and warn pedestrians when attempting to pass by using a bell or verbal warning. It should sound like a cathedral at noon every second of the day on the UH campus. Bells should be ringing and people should be shouting.

Instead, all that’s heard is the deafening silence of petrified pedestrians and the whirring of wheels closing in on them. Every now and then you can hear a distant scream of a cyclist taking another victim.

This level of narcissism can be seen on UH sidewalks almost daily. Cyclists travel much faster than walking pedestrians and have every right to pass in a safe manner.

Cycling solutions

But this is rarely the case. Instead of slowing down and riding around a group of walking students, they choose to keep the course.

Cyclists like to do this thing where they ride uncomfortably fast around pedestrians rather than slow down and move safely. These are the same people who weave in and out of traffic on 1-45 while going 110 mph.

This could be solved by creating a “slow zone.” The zone would act in the same way as school zone speed limits and limit their speed during the peak busy times on campus.

But if nothing is done about these perpetrators, then the campus will no longer be a safe environment for students.

Cyclists weren’t born malicious — they were created. They aren’t the worst of society, simply misunderstood by the bipedal population.

The life of a cyclist is long and hard. They must dodge cars even when in a bike lane. They deal with large groups of pedestrians that take up the entire sidewalk and leave no room for responsible bike riders.

Cyclists rely on bike racks to safely lock their source of transportation. This can be especially frustrating to UH cyclists.

UH currently has 356 bike racks on campus, which is clearly not enough. The Cougar reported on the issue in 2014 and it continues to be an issue today. We have even more students than we did in 2014, which means more bikers.

Those of us among the walking population need to understand cyclist’s plight. It will be a healthy step in a more prosperous future for all who roam the UH campus.

We must work together to help create a campus that’s safe for all students. Whether walking, biking, skating or crawling, we all share a collective struggle; surviving higher education.

Assistant Opinion Editor Anthony Cianciulli is a broadcast journalism senior and can be reached at [email protected]

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