Every day, more than 15,000 bicycles cycle their way through Colorado State University campus, according to CSU Police Department Chief of Police, Wendy Rich-Goldschmidt.
With that heavy presence of bikers on campus, CSUPD officers strictly enforce the University’s bicycle regulations.
“I would say a lot of incoming freshmen are coming from a place where they’ve never really ridden a bike,” said Joy Childress, the University’s Traffic & Bicycle Education Enforcement Program supervisor.
The same traffic laws that apply to cars apply to bikes. Bikers are expected to obey speed limits, stop at stop signs and signal before turning. Riding double is prohibited, as is riding on sidewalks adjacent to the street. Individuals must use the provided bike lanes.
“They’ve been in their vehicles since turning 16,” Childress said. “They come to college and they’re riding their bikes for the first time and they still have that mentality of a 15-year-old riding a bike but in all actuality, you are considered a vehicle in the state of Colorado when you’re riding a bicycle.”
Safety is the top priority, according to Childress. She said that without enforcement and an understanding of the law, campus would be pandemonium.
“I bike pretty much everywhere,” said Marianna Maurello, senior psychology student. “It’s frustrating when you have people who cut in front of you without signaling or who you expect to stop at a stop sign but they don’t.”
Bicyclists can also be cited for biking under the influence just as they would if they were driving a car.
“I’ve been here for 11 years and in that timeframe I’ve seen two, maybe three BUIs,” Childress said. “One kid ran into a police car and the other caused a pretty bad accident.”
According to Childress, the most common bike law infractions are failing to stop at a stop sign, riding at night without a headlight or rear reflector and riding in a dismount zone.
Bikers can even be pulled over and ticketed for riding with headphones or earbuds in both ears. It is one of the few rules that Maurello disagrees with.
“I got pulled over for having headphones in by some bike cops,” Maurello said. “I couldn’t believe it, everyone listens to headphones on their bike.”
In the last five years, CSUPD officers issued an average of 811 tickets every fall semester, according to Childress.
“I was pulled over this spring,” said Alaisa Melgoza, a junior human development & family studies major. “I made a right turn and didn’t stop at the stop sign. He pulled me over instantly.”
Melgoza works as an resident assistant in Newsom Hall and said disregarding CSU’s bike laws simply is not an option.
“You have to respect the law,” Melgoza said.
Fortunately for freshmen, CSUPD will begin the semester with a grace period.
“The first two weeks of classes are our big warning time,” Childress said. “If one of our officers pulls over a freshman within that time frame, it’s all about warning and educating.”
In addition to the rules and regulations bikers must follow, all bikes on campus must be registered with CSUPD. Students and staff can register their bikes at the TBEEP office in the CSUPD building for $10. They can also register at TBEEP’s annual bike registration tent, which will be in front of the police department August 20 to 24.
Bike registration deters theft, which Childress said is the biggest problem on campus. Bikes that are registered with CSUPD that are stolen have a 25 percent recovery rate.
The bicycle regulations handbook states that in an average week, four bikes are reported missing to CSUPD.
“Without a serial number,” said Childress, “there’s no way for us to definitively prove that a bike is yours, even if you reported it stolen.”
Everyone who registers their bike is given a book that lists the bicycle rules and regulations enforced on campus.
“Unfortunately, we’ve found that people learn best when they get a ticket,” Childress said. “It’s like we hand that book out and people just don’t understand the severity of knowing that information until they get a ticket.”
Remember: bicycles are held to the same standards as vehicles. Bike cops and patrolling officers around campus will not hesitate to remind anyone by issuing tickets.
“They’ll get ya,” Maurello said.
Collegian Staff Reporter Erick Plattner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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