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Begging for bike safety

Erin Mosley

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Learning to ride a bike is a rite of passage for many children. The moment we take off without the aid of training wheels or our parents’ protective hold is one of the first steps towards independence. Unlike other childhood toys, we don’t outgrow our bikes, and they become convenient and eco-friendly modes of transportation for students and young professionals alike.

Unfortunately, that feeling of freedom is soon wrecked with paranoia and fear as the amount of automobile related biking accidents rises on our ever growing campus.

For two years, I begged for a bicycle. Faster and cooler than walking to class during the sweltering months of August and September, it also seemed like a great way to improve my hipster status. My skeptical parents felt differently, claiming that an unobservant accident-prone person such as myself should not bike on the University’s campus which has seen its share of accidents. Ignoring their caution and believing that I wasn’t a statistic, I brought my bike to campus this year. The transition from pedestrian to biker was everything that I had hoped. Clad in Tevas, cuffed jeans and a V-neck t-shirt, I would freely zip around campus with the breeze in my hair and sun on my cheeks. I marveled at how quickly I was able to fly from my apartment, to class, then work and back home again with minimal effort and time. Everything was great until one day while adhering to the rules of the road by riding in the bike lane, I was hit by a car making a right turn as I attempted to continue going straight. Aside from the sheer shock of the incident, I only received minor injuries which included a sprained shoulder and a 
bruised shin.

I was one of the lucky ones but with slightly different circumstances, it is possible that I would not be writing this column at all. Others have not been so fortunate. By now, many people have heard of the hit-and- run accident that happened only earlier this week with another UA student, Rod Rahimizadeh. The miracle of his survival and pending recovery does not mitigate the dangers that bikers, both students and professors as they ride on campus.

I haven’t mounted my bike since having my own accident (also a hit and run), opting instead to endure the heat and the extra few minutes to walk, but hundreds of students continue to ride to class each day. For many students without vehicles or parking passes for campus, biking is one of the best options 
for transportation.

I truly believe that even with biking lanes and laws put into place, there is no real lane for the biker. We are despised by pedestrians and motorists alike, the former claiming that we are too fast and the latter screaming the opposite. As our biker population increases so should our awareness. Legally, bikers are required to ride in the road and motorists should treat bikers as they would other motorists. The responsibility lies on both parties to have an understanding for the rules of the road and to abide them. Like biking and other lessons we learned in our childhood, looking both ways, paying attention and being respectful would help to prevent many injuries and possible deaths. In this faster-than-ever-paced, severely distracted society, simple observation would save many lives.

Erin Mosley is a junior majoring in studio art. Her column runs biweekly.

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Begging for bike safety