Students should follow rules of the road to ensure safety

Jim Sampson

Jim Sampson

As many of you may have noticed, there is no place to park on campus. New parking system, construction, more students; they all add up. Many have found that riding their bicycle to class can work well.

I spent the past two school years on campus riding every day and have a few tips to make your bike ride more enjoyable for yourself and others around you. This fall I have an office view of the campus chaos and can provide a few observations.

Get off the sidewalk

If there is a street next to the sidewalk, ride on it. Sidewalks are generally for people to walk. That is why they put the word ‘walk’ in sidewalk. There are many routes from class to class where riding on the sidewalk is necessary.

Remember that you are a guest. Slow down and yield to the pedestrians.

Ride on the right side of the road

You are driving a vehicle. In the U.S., we drive on the right. I think that riding on the left came from our mothers or grandmothers. It is reserved for walking on a highway or road with no sidewalk.

Bicycles need to follow the same rules as a car and should have the same rights. When you approach an intersection, stay out in the driving lane and take your turn at the stop signs. If you always pull over to the curb at a stop sign, cars will pull up beside and turn in front of you. Not stopping at red lights and stops signs just irritates drivers.

My one exception is for sensor triggered lights. They will not detect a bicycle. I might cross on a red if I got caught there. The post at the corner has a button to press, but since you are now a street rider that can be some trouble. I usually avoid intersections with sensor lights unless I see a car ahead that won’t turn right before the light changes. I also try to avoid riding on Sixth Street, 22nd Avenue or other heavily used commuter routes.


First, put your seat up high enough so your legs are almost extended on the down stroke. This is not a motorcycle or kiddy bike with training wheels. You won’t get so tired when pedaling with an extended leg.

If you can’t raise your seat that high, then your bike is too small. You really can’t buy a bike in the third grade and ride it the rest of your life.

Shift gears so that you are pedaling at about 60 RPM or faster. Any slower and you are working too hard. You say your gears don’t work anymore? Have them repaired so that you can at least change the rear gearing. I wear a helmet, but I admit that am quite a bit older than the average student and am more concerned with health than hair.

When the weather gets worse

If my you think the parking is tough now, just wait until it gets cold and the snow starts to fly. All the fair-weather bikers will be motoring to class.

In two years as a student, I drove to class twice and was late one of those times because I had to park so far from Wecota Hall.

When the temperature dropped to -24, I thought about driving, but my pickup wouldn’t start so I rode anyway. It is necessary to dress warm in the winter. Long johns, a good coat and a Balaklava mask do wonders. I also carry rain pants and a jacket in my backpack at all times as well as a headlight and taillight. In the winter some classes start out in the dark or end in the dark. It is a good idea to have at least a rear fender to prevent the wet stripe up the back.

The only places I have had traction issues with my mountain bike are the light brown areas where the snow has been salted and sanded. The snow there never gets hard and feels like riding in sand. Another hazard is finding a bike rack that is not covered with snow. The people that plow seem to like to pile snow on the racks.