Spartan Daily ignores safety risks

Bicycle being ridden on bench

Despite being a bicyclist and a former bike commuter I am still not convinced bicycles belong on the San Jose State University Campus. Many of the people who ride bicycles on the sidewalks at SJSU do so in ways that risk serious injury to themselves and others.

The Spartan Daily has ran stories lately showing bicyclists riding dangerously without helmets on campus. This is so unsafe California has a helmet law regarding this issue. Why has the SJSU campus newspaper not looked at the other side of the issue of bikes on campus? Why has the SJSU campus newspaper not considered the dangers posed by bicycles on campus sidewalks? Is this the Spartan Daily’s idea of fair and balanced reporting?

It is good that SJSU President Jon Whitmore rides his bike to SJSU. But it is bad, I think, that he is riding his bike on the sidewalks of campus. The risks of riding bicycles on sidewalks are well documented. Sidewalks are generally unsuitable to be used as bikeways for the following reasons:

  • Sidewalks are generally not designed for cycling speeds. Cyclists must either reduce their speed or travel too fast for conditions.
  • There is generally insufficient width for shared bicycle and pedestrian travel, particularly due to obstacles such as utility poles, signs, and street furniture that narrows the effective width of the sidewalk.
  • Bicyclists face conflicts with motor vehicles at driveways and intersections. Motorists are generally not expecting a cyclist to cross their path from the sidewalk, and may not be looking for them.
  • Traffic rules, such as obligations to yield, are unclear when cyclists ride on sidewalks, creating confusion and risk between pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists.

In my opinion we are one mis-step, one inattentive moment away from a serious injury; or worse. Bikes belong on the road, not on the sidewalks of our campus.

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