Two Wrongs Don't Make a Ride | Teen Ink

Two Wrongs Don't Make a Ride

November 17, 2013
By SupreetB BRONZE, Phoenix, Arizona
SupreetB BRONZE, Phoenix, Arizona
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

I’m not a big fan of the current state of transportation here at my university. I’m not talking about the buses and shuttles. I’m talking about the increasing danger from the rush of bikers, skateboarders, and scooter-ers. Some from my university may be thinking, “Wait a minute! We already have a Walk-Only Zone! Are you telling me you want more?!” If by “more” you mean another zone, then no. Shockingly, maintaining order in a single spot on campus will not ease the chaos everywhere else. We must change the way of commuting forever.
The mix of riders and pedestrians on the same paths spells trouble. I have seen too many users of wheeled vehicles commit heinous blunders and painful acts that deny common sense. Collisions are commonplace; riders will crash into anyone with the audacity to take up space on the sidewalk. Unfortunately, concepts of “turning” or “braking” are not covered in any available course here, so some students may never have the pleasure of learning them.

Of course, some argue that the ones who contribute to this catastrophe are the pedestrians themselves, fiddling on their phones while remaining completely unaware of the cyclist about to crush their bones. I’m not arguing that pedestrians are completely blameless; having both feet on the ground doesn’t exempt one from stupidity. Unfortunately, no one can deny that they haven’t seen a few cyclists and skateboarders texting while traveling at speeds that rival a bullet train’s. Far too often, you see students jumping side-to-side, back-and-forth, and even up and down to avoid oncoming danger, actions reminiscent of the game Frogger. This gets tiring, fast.

You may believe that I’m being too harsh on riders by trying to enforce my diabolical pedestrian agenda onto them, but I’m trying to ensure their safety. Total safety requires protecting the physical and mental health of each student. “Mental health?” you may ask. Yes.

It’s embarrassing to admit this, but I have never learned to ride a bike. I’m a bit hesitant to share why I stopped trying, but, for the good of the people, it is a story worth telling. I remember the day like it was exactly 10 years, 5 months, 3 days, 7 hours, 12 minutes, and 37 seconds ago: 7-year-old-me was teeming with excitement, ready for my first bike ride without training wheels. After putting on my pretty pink princess helmet, adjusting my seat for maximum comfort, and carefully measuring the wind velocity, I took a deep breath and starting pedaling. It took two whole seconds for gravity to betray my 4-foot, 50-pound self, cruelly crashing me onto the pavement. It wasn’t long until I discovered what would cause severe trauma for the rest of my life: a skinned knee. After that near-death experience, I could never, ever again place my trust in bikes, or any other wheeled vehicle.

I am convinced that many other students have experienced a similar dark moment, judging by the way they dodge these death-contraptions. They too have a deeply ingrained fear of skinned knees. Allowing situations that force students to relive childhood trauma is psychological torture; we should take their suffering into account.

The most obvious solution to this crisis is bike lanes. I admit it is a bad idea to paint thick white partitions on every possible walkway; the convoluted, intersection-ridden layout of my campus simply won’t allow it. But that doesn’t mean we can’t paint thick white partitions on some walkways. A few paths on campus are wide enough for both pedestrians and riders to move without knocking each other down like dominoes; bike lanes would work just fine. If riders need to get to a building on the other side of the path, they can alert others with hand-signals. Archaic, I know, but necessary. There’s also the question of whether some will break the rules. From what is seen of the Walk-Only Zones, most people are pretty good with following orders. However, in the case of the few reprobates, we can employ some of the Walk-Only Zone ambassadors to use Punishment Sticks to beat sense into these hooligans. Separating riders and pedestrians is efficient and peaceful.
Bike lanes are essential for ensuring that students get the best from their college experience here. My university has already earned countless achievements, being the top producer of Fulbright scholars, having renowned graduate programs, and ranking in the top tier of national research universities. Why not add “University with the Least Amount of Vehicle Collisions in the Nation” to the list?

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