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Campus bicycle and pedestrian accidents on the rise

Jillian Langston | Staff Writer

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Ninety-nine car, bike, pedestrian and skateboard accidents were reported on campus from July 2011 to June 2012. According to the UNCW Police Department, three of those were pedestrian or bike accidents.

The university has already matched that number in the past two weeks, said Captain Christian Bertram of the UNCW Police Department.

A popular mode of transportation around the UNCW campus and around Wilmington is the bicycle. Bikes and skateboards are faster thank walking, but they require riders to pay more attention to what they’re doing.

“Luckily, I don’t have to travel during very high traffic times,” said student Bridget Callahan. “I ride very slow and I watch out most for skateboarders.”

There were two accidents within an hour of each other on Monday, Sept. 17. There was also a bicycle accident on Sept. 9.

Bertram thinks that bicyclists simply do not understand the rules of the road. 

“Since bicycles are vehicles, they are subject to all laws,” said Bertram. 

Bicyclists who violate traffic laws can be ticketed. North Carolina traffic laws require bicyclists to use hand signals to communicate intended turns and stops, ride in the same direction as other vehicles, yield to pedestrians, be subject to DWI laws and obey all traffic signs and signals.

The rule that officers see violated the most by bicyclists at UNCW is running stop signs.

Bertram said officers would like to see students dismount their bicycles at roadways and walk them across, instead of riding bicycles across the road.

“Ironically, the sign that the girl hit was a sign telling [students] to walk their bikes across the road,” said Bertram.

Bicyclists are supposed to follow traffic laws on campus roadways. However, Chancellor’s Walk is not considered a roadway but a pedestrian walkway. Bertram advises bikers to show courtesy to other people on Chancellor’s Walk.

Although sidewalks are considered part of the roadway, skateboarders are encouraged to stay on the sidewalk and not to ride in the road.

Christopher Driver, a senior, who has ridden into skateboarders on his bike, believes that there are too many bikes on campus and that the number of bicycles allowed to register should be restricted each semester.

“Everything else has deadlines,” said Driver. “This should too.”

Danielle Lamy, a senior, still rides her bike around campus, even though she was in an accident at the beginning of this semester.

“I have to go to Trask every day, so it is just convenient,” said Lamy. “If I walked, it would take 45 minutes to get back to my dorm.”

A large part of bicycle safety is securing the bicycle when it is not in use, Bertram said. The number one crime on campus is bicycle theft. In the 2011-2012 school year, 158 bikes were reported stolen and 488 unregistered or unclaimed bikes were taken by UNCW Police into safekeeping.

Bike registration isn’t required at UNCW, and only around 80 percent of bicycles found on campus are registered. UNCW police offer registration sessions at the beginning of each semester, but students can register anytime during the school year.

Although many people claim to witness accidents on campus, no serious injuries have been reported so far this school year.

“I’m afraid that someone is going to get hurt,” said Bertram. “We’ve been lucky, so far.”

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Campus bicycle and pedestrian accidents on the rise