SA fights for bikes

The SDSU Students’ Association is calling for more bike lanes in Brookings. There are different types of bike lanes including sharrow lanes, and full bike lanes. Sharrow, or “shared-use arrow”, lanes are shared by bicycles and vehicles. Bike lanes are bicycle exclusive.

Brookings currently has bike paths that go throughout town but according to SA, there is room for improvement. There are currently bike lanes on 8th Street South and sharrow lanes on 11th Street north of McCrory Gardens.

“A lot of those lines on the roads have been taken away but there’s a few places that you can still, because it was sharrow lanes … park on the bike lane,” SA President Caleb Finck said, “It doesn’t work well if you park on it because then [bikers] would have to swerve around it and have to ride out into traffic.”

SA’s plan for future bike lanes involves replacing on-street parking with bike lanes on a variety of streets including 8th street from Western Avenue to 20th Avenue, 20th Avenue from 8th Street to 6th Street, 11th Street from 16th Avenue to 22nd Avenue, 22nd Avenue from 11th Street to 9th Street, 12th Avenue from 8th Street to the railroad tracks, and on 5th Avenue from 8th Street to 4th Street.

Bikes are not supposed to drive on sidewalks, in order to protect pedestrian safety, City Manager Jeff Weldon said. Once you are on a bike, you are no longer a pedestrian, but must follow the rules of every other vehicle. 

“In some places it is actually safer for bikes to be in traffic rather than be on the sidewalk,” Finck said. 

“There are some places, like the University of Minnesota in Mankato, they have dedicated bike lanes on campus and it’s so ingrained and in their culture,” Finck said. “It works for them so we have to develop something, some sort of a system for our campus and something that’s going to work for us.”

A current threat to bicyclists is bike theft. According to Finck, people can register their bikes with both the city and SDSUPD so if their bike is ever stolen and found, the police department can return it to the owner. Bike owners can prevent bike theft by learning how to properly lock up their bike.

“I think if we bring a lot more awareness and have more people riding bikes and have more people educated about how to keep your bike locked up safely and getting people to register their bikes with the city and the university, I think we can get some of those thefts to go down.” Finck said.

The creation of bike lanes can benefit the community in three major ways: economically, environmentally and through health.“There’s some research that shows that bikes have a lot of different impacts on the community … interesting data out there that suggests that [bicyclists] actually buy more over the course of a year at a business if they ride their bike versus driving their car,” Finck said. 

Weldon and the city council have noticed the benefits of bike lanes to Brookings. “I think having bike lanes is good and important.” Weldon said. “We have to balance the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians. We’re taking a strategic look.” 

A lot of work will go into making bike lanes a success in Brookings. According to Weldon, paint, signage and public hearings to inform the public are all part of the process. 

SA hopes that the Brookings will have the bikes lanes completed by Nov. 30.