Lindberg: There’s no excuse for ignoring safe cycling laws on campus

Katie Lindberg

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

Fort Collins is widely known as one of the best and safest places in the nation for cyclists. The organization People for Bikes ranks the city number one in safety on their list of bike-friendly citiesThe League of American Bicyclists has awarded both Fort Collins and Colorado State University platinum-level rankings on their lists of Bicycle Friendly Communities and Bicycle Friendly Universities.

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Yet many at CSU take for granted the monumental effort behind this bike-friendly environment. Members of the community ignore the responsibility they have in keeping it that way on a regular basis.

Every day there are cyclists, boarders and skaters on campus who weave through pedestrian-packed dismount zones. They ignore stop signs at congested intersections and redefine sidewalks as bike lanes for their convenience. These actions can lead to serious injuries for pedestrians and cyclists alike.

Everyone using our award-winning bicycle network must recognize their integral contribution to safety if they want to continue to enjoy its benefits. Cyclists, boarders and skaters have a responsibility to educate themselves on campus laws, abide by those laws and bear the consequences of neglecting them.

Campus transportation regulations like dismount zones and traffic signs may seem excessive or inconvenient, especially when it’s not uncommon to see others break those rules. But every rule about cycling, boarding and skating on campus is designed with safety in mind.

Cyclists, boarders and skaters have a responsibility to educate themselves on campus laws, abide by those laws and bear the consequences of neglecting them.

Law enforcement personnel are far from the only ones concerned with safety on campus. Crime Analyst Josh McClure with the CSU Police Department reported that students, faculty and staff regularly request more enforcement of dismount zones and other cycling regulations.

In 2017, six of CSU PD’s 24 bike officers were in training, reducing their active patrol by 25 percent. McClure said that during that year, requests from the community for more enforcement skyrocketed.

The CSU Police Department has a huge responsibility in keeping up CSU’s level of bicycle safety, considering the campus sees an average of 15,000 cyclists per day. Without their enforcement of the rules and regulations designed to keep cyclists and pedestrians safe, those rules would serve no purpose.

The Bicycle Education and Enforcement Program (BEEP), part of the CSU PD, spearheads the effort to maintain a safe network of transportation on campus. And while enforcement is one of their key roles, BEEP is about much more than writing tickets.

“Our agency is heavy on education over punishment, especially when it comes to bike safety,” McClure said.

BEEP works closely with other bike programs on campus to offer education opportunities and increase visibility. One example is the Spoke, CSU’s student-run center for cycling education and maintenance located in Laurel Village.

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The Spoke stocks maintenance and safety supplies for bikes and boards. Their technicians offer free interactive guidance on do-it-yourself maintenance, including how to use their on-site tools. This week the Spoke had students posted at stations around campus offering free bike maintenance and information to passing cyclists.

While ignorance of the law is no excuse, especially with such available education, BEEP is fully aware that not everyone on campus is familiar with local cycling laws. Fines for campus violations were set with this in mind, and BEEP offers a bicycle safety seminar for offenders to get their first-time safety violation fine of $35 cut in half.

“The CSU BEEP program allows for a cheaper alternative where we can both enforce and educate the community on best cycling practices without involving them in the court system,” McClure said. In contrast, he said that similar violations in the city of Fort Collins would cost $50 with a court fee of $35 for a total of $85.

Cyclists, boarders and skaters at CSU have no excuse for ignoring campus transportation laws. These laws are in place to keep everyone on campus safe, and the University does its part by offering a plethora of opportunities to learn about them. If individuals still choose to believe that these laws should not apply to them, then it is their responsibility to bear the consequences.

Katie Lindberg can be reached at letters@collegian.com or online at @quantumCatnip.