The Daily Northwestern

Outside Looking In: The Bicycle Situation

Sofia Rada, Blogger

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Today, I woke up 20 minutes before my first class. In 13 minutes, I was out my door and speeding through campus. In my hurry, I didn’t bother to put in earphones, allowing the soundtrack of this morning’s race to instead be “I wish I had a bike.” That was until I almost got run over by a cyclist.

I am not saying that all international students come from places where bike policies are better than they are here on campus. Being Mexican and having lived in Brazil, I know that I would much rather be a pedestrian here than in either of those two countries where, although there may be a general lack of cyclists, the trucks and motorcycles make quite the replacement. However, I know the large majority of international students here come from places like Asia or Europe where there’s this little magical thing that NU is definitely missing: bike lanes.

Cyclists here seem to believe that, as they dash through campus, they can gracefully weave through the stream of people walking. In reality, they’re not all that agile. Seeing as this isn’t Beijing or Copenhagen, where bike lanes help to prevent incidents, it would really be lovely if they could either use their bells or say “excuse me.” It’s not much to ask, and it would help make everyone’s mornings (and afternoons and nights) much more peaceful.

On my way out of my lecture, I again almost got run over — not once, not twice, but three times. You must be thinking I really need to look up more when I’m walking. Sure, sometimes I get carried away with my daydreams of good Asian food or warmer weather from back home, but I’m not the only one who has come face-to-face with the threat of the two-wheeled menaces. I know this because when I sent my friend a frustrated text about the situation (a text I won’t repeat it on here due to self-censorship, but I will say that the reason for the existence of bells was mentioned), she replied with something I found hilarious, reassuring and also terrifying. She told me that someone broke his arm because he moved too quickly out of the way of a cyclist and fell. Seriously?

I won’t lie and say that I haven’t had to watch out while walking before. Any student coming from Shanghai, or anywhere in Asia for that matter, knows that crossing the street can be tricky business. However, I would expect this video game scenario on Sheridan, not on the smaller, shorter paths. Don’t worry, I’m watching out more. While I’m making suggestions, though, it would also be nice if people on bikes got white lights or reflectors or neon vests or something (how about that bell?) so that, when those of us who get around on foot make that trek from the library back to our dorm at 2 a.m., we don’t find ourselves knocked to the ground from a surprise attack.

Did I mention bells?

— Sofia Rada

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