Awareness key to bicycle-pedestrian safety
With more than 50,000 faculty, staff and students at the University of Florida sharing campus sidewalks and roadways with the more than 30,000 bicycles registered at the UF Police Department, pedestrian-bicycle run-ins are bound to happen on occasion.
UPD’s Lt. Robert Wagner says most pedestrian-bicyclist collisions can be avoided if all parties would be more aware of their surroundings.
Students often talk on cell phones while they walk or eat their lunches as they ride their bikes. These activities may be an efficient use of time, but they are far from safe.
“The easiest way to avoid a bike accident is to give a warning when you are coming up behind a pedestrian,” Wagner said. “I can count on one hand the number of bike bells I have ever seen. The easiest thing to do is to give a verbal warning when you are coming up behind a pedestrian. It is also something that is required by law.”
Pedestrians often don’t see a bicycle approaching from behind, Wagner said. He encourages bicyclists to plan ahead, just in case someone walks in front of them.
Additionally, Wagner advises pedestrians and bicyclists to stay in their designated lanes. The bike lanes are for bicycles, not for foot traffic. Likewise, cyclists should try to skirt areas of heavy pedestrian congestion, such as the Hub and the Turlington Plaza area ,as much as possible.
UPD offers a safety class for bicyclists who have received citations. The class is held weekly at 6 p.m. on Tuesdays and at 9 a.m. on Saturdays. Wagner said the 90-minute class is a great way to become familiar with bicycle laws, safety tips, safety equipment and theft protection, as well as learn how to be a defensive bike rider.
Pedestrians also share responsibilities with bicyclists in keeping sidewalks and roadways safe. To learn more about bicycle laws and other safety tips, visit the UPD Web site at www.police.ufl.edu/.