How To Be A Polite Bike Person On Campus
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Student Life

How To Be A Polite Bike Person On Campus

It can actually be very dangerous if you don’t follow these rules and literally try to cut corners.

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How To Be A Polite Bike Person On Campus
Lydia Lierz

As a “bike person” on my college campus, I’ve witnessed a couple crashes and several close calls. Being a decent bicyclist is much like just being a decent person in general: don’t be a jerk. It can actually be very dangerous if you don’t follow these rules and literally try to cut corners. So, let’s learn together and review some ideas on how to be a nice guy on a bike.

1. Know how to ride a bike

This seems like it shouldn’t be part of the list, or even the first on the list, but I’ve seen some college students around campus that could probably take another spin on their training wheels. This isn’t a dig; maybe some people just aren’t good at riding bicycles. If you are that person, maybe just walk. Because everyone around you is scared.

2. Give pedestrians space

If you’re late to class and you’re biking like it’s Nascar around campus, give pedestrians a good 5 feet of space so they don’t feel like they’re going to get mauled. Plus, you should be prepared for them to make abrupt movements. I’ve seen many bikers speed up to the left of someone on a sidewalk, only for that pedestrian to turn left at juuust the right moment and, alas, she was mauled. Regardless, it scares the crap out of peds when you’re suddenly there; they’ll think you’re going to hit them whether you’re in control or not.

3. Don’t cut people off

Along the same lines, don’t speed past a pedestrian and then cut right in front of them. Once you’ve scared ‘em and jump in front of them, they’ll get tripped up and you might not hear nice words as you scurry off. Similarly, if you’re crossing in front of them at any point and aren’t sure if you’re going to make it without hitting them, just slow down and wait for them to pass. When peds don’t see you, or know what route you’re planning in your head, they get frazzled and won’t know where to go and you’ll hit them.

4. Don’t run into their ankles

When coming up to a pedestrian from behind, watch them! They could suddenly stop in their tracks, turn to the side, spin, or flail their arms around. When this happens, you’ll try to swerve on your bike and just the wrong movement could take your front wheel to their bare ankles and make you fall off your bike in a crosswalk.

I know what you’re thinking, “Wow, Lydia, sounds like you’re speaking from experience…” Yes, my friend. I am.

5. Don’t jump in front of cars and expect them to stop

They might not!!!! If you’re able to make eye contact with a driver coming your way as you approach your crosswalk, sometimes you can give an, “okay I’m gonna go first,” type of telepathy-glance and everyone’s good to go. Other times, that driver is rocking their heart out to T-Swift’s latest hit on the radio and aren’t paying attention to you already crossing the street. To be on the safe side, wait for the car to fully stop and actually make sure each party is good to go.

6. Slow down for pedestrians

As you, the bike person, has the right-of-way to cars, pedestrians trump all in the game of right-of-ways. Let them pass in front of you, or slow down so they can carry on without the fear of your wheels skidding across their abdomen.

7. Apologize

Sometimes the things above that I’m trying to steer you away from just happen. Accidents happen so quickly, and you can’t prevent every one of them. But if you do run into someone, or cut them off, or run out of space, just apologize as you ride by. It’s better than running over their shoe and pretending it didn’t happen. Have some compassion and know everyone’s just trying to get from point A to point B efficiently and (probably) as safely as possible.

Out of courtesy, be the nice bike-guy and don’t give people a reason to be scared of us. We're just students on wheels trying to get to class, after all.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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