UAPD and students disagree over cycling rules on campus
A UA student bikes toward Old Main on Sept. 21. A Daily Wildcat analysis showed an average of 250 bikes reported stolen on campus per year, and a 2017 Arizona Daily Star article found that 1,200 bikes were reported stolen in 2017.
Cyclists on campus can receive fines for breaking biking regulations, but students may not be aware of the rules in place.
There are many biking regulations on campus, which can be found on the the University of Arizona Parking and Transportation Services website. Some of the most valuable rules are yielding to pedestrians, riding on the right-hand side where there are bike lanes, using hand signals when turning and stopping at stop signs or red lights.
A biking regulations follow the rules set by the City of Tucson, but many students seem to be unaware of the rules or are choosing not to follow them. Sergeant Sean Shields of UAPD said students often violate biking laws, especially at the beginning of the year; the most violated rule is running stop signs.
“We usually stop a lot of those bicyclists that do that just so that we can inform them that they need to follow the same traffic laws as if you were driving a car,” Shields said. “It’s not necessarily that they are doing it on purpose — some of them do, but it’s because a lot of them don’t know that they are supposed to follow those rules.”
For the first couple of weeks of the semester, UAPD educates the school about bike safety and all that it entails. According to Shields, UAPD sends out officers to locate students disobeying laws and educate them.
While students can be given citations for behaving badly on a bicycle, Shields said UAPD does not give them out very often. Instead, officers give verbal or written warnings to students to inform them of how and why they are violating a biking rule.
“We feel that if we were going to write citations or bicycle infractions or even pedestrian infractions, it would have to be pretty severe, meaning if they ran a stop sign and caused an accident or something like that,” Shields said. “Normally we try to take the approach of more education than anything else. When school progresses, that’s when it could turn into citations.”
Joey Iuliano, president of the UA cycling team, disagreed and claims UAPD focuses more on fining students rather than educating them on what they are doing wrong. Iuliano believes that UAPD should focus more on pulling over motorized vehicles.
Each year, students are offered a program that teaches bike safety. Students that complete the class can possibly have their citations dismissed if they receive one while on the road. The program is becoming more popular and UAPD are pushing more students to get involved.
The program has not stopped pedestrians from getting hit by cyclists. Shields said that there are still many accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists. However, Shields believes that these accidents are more frequent due to the obsession with smartphones.
Iuliano disagrees and believes that it is less likely that a cyclist will hit a pedestrian.
“Well, I think the risk of someone riding a bike injuring someone while walking is pretty low,” Iuliano said. “You have a bigger risk of a vending machine falling on you than a cyclist running into you. Personally, I think the bigger issue is motorists.”
Iuliano said that while there are many cyclists that do not stop at a stop sign, the same goes for people driving their cars. He believes that it’s more common for cars to be violating street laws than cyclists. Iuliano gave the example of motorists pulling into the biking lane when unloading even though there are designated unloading stations.
While there may be problems concerning motorists not following street laws, it is always important for students on campus to be aware of bike regulations so they can be safe cyclists on campus.
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