Biking on Campus: A Rant

As a pedestrian on Purdue’s campus, I often find myself dodging bikes that are on the sidewalk even though they should not be (especially those belonging to a company known for being “freaky fast*”….). I have even been hit by a bike (not badly) while running!

The good news: the police are apparently cracking down on this. I read an article (can’t seem to find it now) in the local news a few weeks ago talking about how they are beginning to ticket people who ride on the sidewalks, as it is illegal in business districts, such as on campus, or, I don’t know, near restaurants like Jimmy John’s *cough*. They are mostly giving warnings, as some students “don’t know” it is illegal, but at least it’s a start.

The bad news: even though I hate the other cyclists for doing it, and I could risk getting a ticket, I am just as guilty of sidewalk riding as some of them. Why? BECAUSE PURDUE FORCES ME TO WITH THEIR TERRIBLE INFRASTRUCTURE. You would think a university that has a civil engineering program could do a better job.

One may say to me “Hey, Chelsea, haven’t you only been biking on campus for like a month?” To that, I would reply “Yes, and everyday I learn something new I hate about biking on campus.” Or perhaps you would respond “Well, maybe Purdue isn’t the best, but you don’t have experience on other campuses, so maybe it is relatively better.” My response would be that that should not matter – just because everyone else does a shitty job it doesn’t mean Purdue has to (it would only mean I shouldn’t EXPECT more of them, not that I cannot wish that they would do more, see the difference?).

Here is my proof of why biking there stinks and I am justified in ranting: behold, a map of the campus “bike lanes.”

Note a few things about this map that are clear without you even seeing campus:

  • The vast majority of lanes are planned. As in, this map is mostly of things that don’t exist yet.
  • Many of the bike lanes are dead ends with one purpose. Like, you can only access them from a specific point (in many cases, a sidewalk) and then they end at like…a building?

Here are some of the things you can’t see:

  • Most of the “bike lanes on road” aren’t marked. They are assuming that cyclists and motorists will just know the shoulder is a “bike lane.”
  • Some of the bike lanes are on sidewalks. Like, not a separate path between the sidewalk and road, but just bikes painted on the sidewalk to let you know it’s ok to ride on this particular sidewalk.
  • They park shit in the bike lanes. Bloodmobiles. John Deere tractors. Maintenance trucks. You name it!
  • And finally, this:

“This” is an actual bike lane. Notice the abrupt curb. Yes, ALL of them are like this (there may be like one place where it is sloped). I suppose if I was a better cyclist, I could just hop these, but I’m not, so I have to dismount my bike. And that is the intention of the university, by the way – at most of these intersections, there is a sign that says “cyclists dismount.” This means that I have to cross the road at a place without a crosswalk (not illegal, but cars won’t be looking for me) and I have to do it slower than a pedestrian because I have the extra effort of pushing around a bicycle. I find this way more dangerous than if they just had cyclists stop there and look before crossing. I know that some would not stop and would therefore put themselves in danger, but then it would the fault of a cyclist’s poor decision, not of the infrastructure forcing them to make a poor decision.

To be fair to poor Purdue, I also read that they are going to invest some money in the future into making the campus as well as the commute to campus more bike friendly. Who knows if those plans will ever come to fruition? Are those planned bike lanes even really planned?

*If you’ve never heard of Jimmy John’s, they are basically a sandwich place that will deliver pretty much anywhere, and they do it quickly. They manage this by using cyclists instead of cars for most places, but the cyclists tend to be really aggressive and run over everyone and everything while doing like 15 illegal things at once. It’s probably not completely their fault, as they would probably get fired if they didn’t do these things to stay as fast as they are. It’s still annoying to have them run you over, though.


3 thoughts on “Biking on Campus: A Rant

  1. Kris says:

    Clarion didn’t have specific infrastructure and bikes and Peds were fine in my opinion. It could be the smaller size, but having wide sidewalks and relatively little car traffic in the interior of campus, probably helped!

    • This is a good point. Clarion’s sidewalks are like 2x as wide as the ones at Purdue (on some of them, I have trouble if I encounter another pedestrian). Additionally, Clarion had very few roads on campus, resulting in less traffic on campus, and what roads were there were not very busy (with the exception of Main St., but you only had to cross it, and only if you were going to the business building or a single parking lot). In contrast, the roads that Purdue expects us to ride on are busy multi-lane roads without shoulders. At least the busiest roads in Clarion on/near campus (Wood, South, and Main) all had shoulders!

      • To give some additional context on the sidewalk size, a large part of what inspired this post is that the other day, some dude on a fixie ran into me because I was running and couldn’t fit past another person on the sidewalk without slowing down and treading more carefully. He was behind me on the sidewalk (where strangely, I think he was SUPPOSED to be in this location) and ran into me, then decided to salmon down the street, almost running into oncoming traffic in order to finally get around us. Then he went back on the sidewalk and started biking slower than I could run again.

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