University of Mississippi students have considerable ground to traverse while making their cross-campus commutes to class. Many find it convenient to use a bike to reduce travel time and the amount of physical exertion. However, some say campus bikers may have taken their sidewalk rights too far.
The University Police Department reports that bikers are to abide by all traffic laws, especially on the road. There are currently no restrictions that prohibit cyclists from biking on pedestrian walkways, such as sidewalks and other designated areas on campus. However, they are expected to uphold the laws of common sense while maneuvering a bicycle through a crowded space.
Sophomore Associated Student Body Senator Megan Krynen said there has been ASB discussion about creating cyclist restrictions in public spaces.
“There has been ongoing conversation with the infrastructure committee, but no legislation has been drafted as a result of this discussion,” Krynen said.
Wilson Benton, a junior, agrees with efforts to instate more beneficial programs for bikers, such as designated biker lanes. With a mile commute each way to the university campus, Benton is well-educated in the laws of the road.
“I try to make sure I drive as cautiously as I can,” Benton said, “and I make sure I use hand signals as well, which not many people know how to use.”
Benton said the more threatening issue to student safety is not cyclists, but the danger of vehicular traffic.
“The more pressing threat to students are cars on campus,” said Benton. “The problem is that cars don’t respect the right-of-way for pedestrians or bikers.”
One student reported accidently running into another student while riding his bike on campus. Mack Hubbell, a sophomore, said the greatest issue facing sidewalk safety is the magnitude of unaware pedestrians. Typically with heads bent toward their phones, students attempt to traipse along the sidewalk paying no attention to their surroundings.
“She was walking toward me as I was biking, and she was looking down at her phone,” said Hubbell, “and when she looked up, she tried to move out of the way, but she accidentally walked the way I went, and we collided.”
Hubbell frequents campus walkways regularly, riding his bike to class each day. He claims the most difficult time to travel by bike is during the 10-minute intervals before and after classes.
UM senior Reid Santa Cruz reported seeing a near-collision with a student and cyclist near Farley Hall.
“A guy with crutches was crossing the road, and he stopped at the side walk to take a rest,” said Santa Cruz.” Then out-of-nowhere, a guy on a bike barreled around the corner and nearly knocked him and myself over.”
Sophomore Mattie Huey believes bikers are becoming an increasingly prevalent problem to pedestrian safety on campus. She attributes the congested pavements to the ever-expanding student population at Ole Miss.
“I think that if the biker population continues to increase, then more regulations or designated bike paths should definitely be implemented,” said Huey.
Huey has also noticed a the biker population’s male-dominated presence.
Benton said this coincidence is due to the indifference he believes many girls have to riding a bike on campus.
“I think they think that they might get made fun of,” commented Benton, “but it’s honestly a great way to get around on campus despite the troubles some may have had in the past.”