The dangers of being a pedestrian

I remember driving to campus one summer about two years ago, and seeing the ‘share rows’ painted on the ground. I recognized these bikes on the road as part of the new College Corridor campaign to get more people off of cars and onto bikes.
The growing Bear Bikes program also gives a positive outlook on the direction the campaign’s initiative is heading. Unfortunately, the bike riding initiative has proved to be a little lackluster. The signs on the ground are fading.
Plus, with all of the new construction happening around town, the roads are just dangerous. I got a road bike a little over a year ago and have been itching to have a place to ride it. With the slew of bikes that were stolen last year, I left my bike at home. Now that I live off campus, my fears are singing a different tune.
I’m no longer afraid of bringing my bike to campus, I’m afraid of riding my bike.
I’ve never raced competitively, but I am fairly skilled on a bike, can ride at a fairly fast speed even though my cadence could use a little work, and I’m confident in my ability to avoid running into things.
However, I am definitely afraid of getting hit by a car. Who wouldn’t be, right? Cars are big and if something big like a car hits something smaller like a person, it’s going to hurt. But, my fear of getting hit kind of goes a little farther than being hit by a car. I’m terrified of intersections.
When I was in eighth grade, my class took a trip from Warner Robins to Chattanooga. It was a fun trip, but on the way home we stopped by a McDonald’s. A small group of us didn’t want McDonald’s and decided to take a chaperone and walk across an eight lane intersection to go to Burger King across the street (they have better fries).
We crossed the street successfully on the way to BK, but on the way back it was a totally different story!
Our group walked through the first four lanes without a hitch. We were standing in the median, waiting for the walk signal again, when, unbeknownst to me, I managed to get my foot tangled in some sort of cable that was on the road.
When the signal changed, I took a step forward and landed straight on my face. I was in the back of the pack so it took a few seconds before anyone noticed what had happened. By the time I stood up, the traffic light turned green. Cars started moving and I was a bloody mess. I’m pretty sure my life flashed before my eyes as the cars started accelerating again.
The chaperone was freaking out and apologized for my pain. I ended up laughing as I limped across the final four lanes. Our entire group had one heck of a story to tell, but that night solidified my fear of intersections.
That being said, the north entrance of campus, the one with the Alumni House on one corner and the Centenary on the other absolutely terrifies me.
Maybe my fear is a little irrational, but walking across that street is one thing, and riding your bike is a completely different story. The walk/don’t walk signal on the corner only works when it wants to, so you kind of have to just walk at your earliest convenience and hope no one hits you.
There also doesn’t seem to be a pedestrian law around here that accommodates bike riders and is regularly enforced by the police. Plus, as much as I respect what Mercer Police does for Mercer, the area right around Mercer kind of becomes a jurisdiction nightmare.
Accident reports involving pedestrians often become a befuddled mess, especially when they involve golf carts. I guess the whole golf carts thing is going to have to wait for a different issue.
As things stand right now, I’d love to bring my bike to campus, but I don’t feel comfortable with the state of the roads, the crazy intersections, and the amount of car vs bike related accidents to ride my bike to and from campus or elsewhere.
Hopefully, with the increased interest in bike riding that has happened lately on campus, the current state of things will have to change to accommodate the transortation interests and safety of our student body.

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