No biking-related accidents reported to U.Va. Police in 2017

Student, faculty bikers talk about their experiences

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Many students use bikes as a convenient way to get around on and off Grounds.

Emma Klein | Cavalier Daily

According to the University Police Department, there has been at least one biking-related accident every year since 2013. However, none have been reported this year. 

Ben Rexrode, Crime Prevention Coordinator with the University Police Department, said that there is not a specific pattern defining these biking accidents.

“Often it is the vehicle that doesn’t see a cyclist or doesn’t yield correctly to them, but there have been incidents where cyclists have gone through red lights, cut in front of vehicles, etc,” Rexrode said in an email to The Cavalier Daily. “Long story short, definitely a mix and not all one sided.”

Many students choose to ride their bikes to get around and, despite the occasional close-call and some inconveniences around academic buildings, several say they are having positive experiences with biking on Grounds.

“I feel pretty safe biking on Grounds, I find it very convenient — especially because I live at Lambeth — I can bike to and from anywhere else on Grounds pretty easily,” second-year Engineering student Nate Geerdes said. “In some of the more academic building areas like [Engineer’s Walk] and around New Cabell it could be a lot easier for bikers if there was a path around Grounds that way. Bikes work out well when they’re on the roads with cars, but when there’s a lot of people it’s a lot harder for people to bike.” 

Pedestrians’ lack of awareness can force student bikers to make dangerous maneuvers. Third-year Engineering student Brian Truong said that one time, he was forced to act quickly due to an unobservant pedestrian. 

“There was one time a pedestrian didn’t look before crossing and I almost hit him,” Truong said. “I was going down Stadium [Road] down that hill and then he just started crossing along with his dog and I had to yell at them to stop before I swerved past him. It was a really close call — I couldn’t even look to see if there was any traffic going the other way.” 

Despite the general satisfaction with biking on- and off-Grounds, many bikers new to the University can find it hard to find their role in traffic. Asst. Engineering and Society Prof. Sharon Ku said she often struggles to find the best biking paths and sometimes encounters rude drivers at busy intersections, some who have yelled at her. Ku moved to Charlottesville in August and finds it necessary to bike to Grounds because of issues finding parking.

“It seems that the desire for the transportation system is for drivers, not for bikers,” Ku said. “A bike seems to become a kind of ambiguous artifact in that situation. It seems to not belong on the main road, but it’s also not a good idea to ride a bike on the pedestrian walkways.”

In addition to this, bikers risk their bikes being stolen or damaged. Second-year Engineering student Finbar Curtin had his bike stolen while at an off-Grounds meeting in September.

“My bike got stolen during a five minute window on Madison Lane,” Curtin said in an email. “I went to my fraternity chapter meeting, locked my bike to another guy's bike lock, he left five minutes before I did and left my bike unlocked. [I] came back and it was gone.”

Two months later, Curtin’s replacement bike was damaged on Grounds.

“Last week, I left my (newly bought) bike at the Olsson Hall bike rack nearby to a lot of construction,” Curtin said. “I came back after two hours and the back wheel was completely bent, presumably by a construction vehicle. However, UVA Grounds Maintenance was extremely helpful and paid for the damages.”

Although biking on Grounds can present certain challenges, it remains a popular option for students.  

“Honestly, I don’t think there’s that much the University could do to [improve biking paths],” fourth-year Engineering student Ashe Allende said. “As long as you obey the rules of the road, it’s definitely a great mode of transportation.” 

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