I walk to my 8 a.m. class every Tuesday and Thursday, surrounded by students who walk and those who bike. Typically I have no issues with bikers. I have never been hit, scared or intimidated by them – until recently. On my walk to Main Campus, just as the light turned red for me to cross the crosswalk I stepped off the curb and was nearly ran over by a biker. I had to jump back for a second and gather myself. I found it strangely coincidental that the week I was researching Temple’s bike phenomenon I was nearly hit. I now couldn’t be clearer of where I stand regarding bike lanes.
Main Campus needs bike lanes, not just to further promote its green initiative, but for the safety of the students.
Philadelphia is full of people who chose biking as their mode of transportation. Yet, with very limited bike lanes, bikers have to be especially careful on their commute to watch for drivers who do not watch for them. Recently, issues with bike lanes include the frequent use of them as parking space, what constitutes a vehicle and reporting accidents. These discrepancies have lead to an uproar in the cyclist community.
Biking has increased on Main Campus. In 2008, 6 percent of students reported that they commuted to school by bicycle and in 2010 approximately 9 percent commuted by bicycle, according to a survey by the Office of Sustainability.
Cyclists have resolved to weave in and out of those who walk, ride along traffic in no specific lane and often stop to walk their bikes to class once inside Main Campus.
The influx of cyclists creates an unsafe environment not only for cyclists, but for students walking as well. The bike lanes that do surround Main Campus are occupied with parked cars and don’t extend inside campus. This essentially eliminates lanes that were intended to provide a safe commute for students who bike to class.
Izzat Rahman is an avid cyclist and co-founder of Kayuh Bicycles, a company catering to the needs of student cyclists. Rahman said that implementing bike lanes would help lessen congestion, but right now awareness is the bigger issue.
“A lot of times, I see cyclists riding on sidewalks or they share the walkway path with pedestrians because they either are afraid of getting hit by a car or just rather ride on the road,” Rahman said. “Introducing a bike path needs ample planning, for instance, if a bike lane is introduced on Liacouras Walk, what happens if the [Student Center] organizes Spring Fling?”
Rahman suggests that Temple pair up with a bicycle company and promote bicyclist events that everyone can partake in.
All of Main Campus needs to get involved to further encourage safe biking. There are already trail signs along campus directing bicyclists in the right direction, and enhancing that with actual bike lanes would be the ultimate plan.
But the issue does not lie within bringing the bike lanes to Main Campus, but rather getting the entire campus to recognize that this is an important issue. There needs to be some kind of meeting to make this a successful venture.
The implementation of bike lanes on Main Campus is not a project that will take a day, a month or a year. It could take an extensive amount of time to properly coordinate where they should be placed. But in an effort to afford Temple the safety of its students, it should be a pertinent point to raise awareness about the importance of bike lanes, the benefits of biking to class, and the different companies that students and faculties can utilize to assist them in getting started.
The idea of implementing bike lanes is plausible, but it cannot happen without the cooperation of the Temple community.
Zevenia Dennis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.