DiSalvo: Biking around campus shouldn’t be so difficult
Some say climbing Mt. Everest is foolish, crab fishing in Alaska is the most dangerous job in the world and trying to grab sting rays is for those with a death wish.
Try biking down Euclid Avenue and around the university area.
There aren’t hills like the Pyrenees of the Tour de France, but instead obstacles and dangers aplenty on these Syracuse streets. It’s a true test of endurance to ride on them.
OK, maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit, but the ride down Euclid is more dangerous than it has to be.
This was going to be another column in which I’d complain about how things are, but in this case, something is actually scheduled to be done. There are plans to create bike lanes on Euclid either this fall or next spring. This was initially scheduled to be done last year, so it may be too early to actually expect something.
And I’ll still complain a little, for some background.
Each time I place my feet on the pedals I should say a little prayer before I am on my way. Not that I’m that much of a religious man, but simply because surviving some of the university area streets on a bike takes a bit of luck. First, there are cars, buses and people everywhere.
Yes, I understand roads are made for cars, buses and trucks. Yes, I understand sidewalks are made for pedestrians. But then, dare I ask, where are we to put the bicycle? One would think an important mode of transportation – underrated for avoiding muggers – would have a place, too.
Currently, cars are supposed to be parked on one side of the street for alternate side parking. That doesn’t always happen – and will need to for bike lanes to be effective. Going to or coming from campus, it’s likely you’ll be pinned close to a parked car if you’re biking. I try not to cause accidents, so I stay close to the cars on the side of the road to give drivers enough room.
But this leaves me susceptible to a person opening the driver’s side door of a parked car and sending me flying – which might look hilarious, but certainly wouldn’t feel great. Some cars will give a little more room, and to those people I say, ‘Thank you.’ Others don’t, though. And with the abundance of SUVs on campus, as well as buses, it’s a little crazy out there.
John Murray of the Syracuse Onondaga Cycling Coalition said it best.
‘One of the reasons (the area is dangerous) is people that drive cars do not know how to share the road,’ he said. ‘They don’t have that concept in their head.’
It’s true. I’ve been cut off and have had a few close calls simply because drivers don’t see me or give me enough room. Murray said Syracuse Police put out a report on accidents – which said of the percentage of people injured in motor vehicle accidents, three percent are cyclists, while pedestrians account for four percent. We give walkers a sidewalk to be safe, shouldn’t we give cyclists something?
‘I have almost gotten hit once or twice in Syracuse,’ said Zach King, a junior and experienced cyclist. ‘I regard most drivers as unaware. You can only depend on yourself and cannot control the actions and reactions of others.’
But let’s be fair, not all cyclists are angels either. You aren’t Lance Armstrong flying through a small French village. You can’t just run through any red light or stop sign. You shouldn’t weave in and out of lanes. But all these problems could be helped by the creation of bike lanes, which Murray said will help everyone see each other more clearly and will make the area much safer. The approved plan the coalition has given to the city would create bike lanes on either side of Euclid (only one would be active per day because of parking), from campus all the way to Meadowbrook Ave.
The coalition has helped implement bike lanes on Meadowbrook Ave. and Comstock Ave. But the lane on Euclid will help service the many cyclists that use bikes to get to class each day. There are back-roads behind Euclid that can be used to get to campus, but sometimes Euclid is the fastest route to places such as Marshall St. and areas around Thornden Park. Hopefully, the lanes can make traveling to those spots easier.
If a few painted lines could actually be put down to help prevent a Billy Fucillo Centro bus from running me over, that would be huuuuge-ah.
Pat DiSalvo is a staff writer for The Daily Orange, where his columns appear every Tuesday. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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