MSU police are launching an educational campaign as an effort to remind students of campus bicycle and pedestrian ordinances as a prequel to increasing enforcement in a few weeks.
For now, fliers and educational material are being distributed in residence and dining halls to raise awareness, but soon MSU police be issuing citations if bicyclists and pedestrians are caught not adhering to local ordinances.
Because of the severe accidents police have already seen this fall, MSU police Sgt. Florene McGlothian-Taylor said the department wanted to educate students on where and how they should ride their bikes, and educate pedestrians on obeying traffic laws.
MSU police Lt. Randy Holton, who is also working closely with the campaign, said because of the transient nature of the student population, some students might not know where it is appropriate to ride their bikes.
“Some of the common things are bicyclists riding their bikes on sidewalks and through crosswalks,” Holton said. “And that’s where a lot of our accidents occur.”
Bicyclists who are found riding their bikes in sidewalks, instead of making use of bike lanes or paths, are subject to fines under MSU traffic ordinances. Additionally, bicyclists who are using paths should dismount their bikes on crosswalks, so drivers are not caught off guard by a bicyclist suddenly appearing in the crosswalk.
Besides knowing where to ride bikes, bicyclists also are required to have a headlight and rear light mounted to their bike at night.
“The visibility part of safety is important because cyclists need to have some headlights or tail lights so motorists can see you,” MSU Bikes Manager Tim Potter said. “If a path is coming to a place where it crosses a road, if motorists aren’t seeing you they aren’t going to stop. It helps to dress in brighter colors, too. Being a ninja cyclist might make you look cool, but it’s not good for odds of being seen when you need to be.”
Potter said distractions also play a role in pedestrian and bicyclist accidents, and many students he sees on campus aren’t aware of their surroundings because of headphones or cell phone distractions.
Students who are wearing headphones might not hear a bike coming up behind them, and might turn suddenly and be hit, Potter said. Bicyclists can have a similar problem knowing when cars are approaching.
Students who are focused on cell phones might not be aware of their surroundings or see an approaching bike, and have a higher chance of getting injured, Holton added.
Pedestrians are also subject to citations if they are not using marked crosswalks properly. Holton said many pedestrians believe they have the right of way whenever they enter a crosswalk, but that is not always the case.
“Basically, you’re supposed to cross the street at a marked crosswalk,” Holton said. “Cars have the right of way on the road, unless a pedestrian is legally in the crosswalk.”