New to campus? Here’s a handy guide for bike and scooter safety

Lisa Dreher

Austin is a dense city, so freshmen and other incoming UT students biking or trying the new Lime and Bird dockless scooters need to know how to navigate campus and downtown.

Laura Dierenfield, a division manager within the Austin Transportation Department, said with the growth of dockless mobility, people need to make sure they are using these services safely.

“Part of doing that is being visible and communicating with drivers,” Dierenfield said.

Dierenfield said using the bike lanes is preferred, although bikes and scooters are allowed on streets with speed limits of 35 mph or less.

Riders must be outside the “door zone” of parked cars to avoid car doors swinging open, and bicyclists should only ride on sidewalks for short periods at a walking pace. Dierenfield also said part of being predictable is using the “scan and signal” method.

“What it means is look behind you and see what is behind you, signal and then look again before you actually make that maneuver,” Dierenfield said.

Communicating would be making eye contact with drivers, Dierenfield said. 

James Lentz is president of the UT Campus Bike Alliance, which advocates for bike safety and access on campus. 

Lentz moved from Boston to Austin and said students should practice biking around to adapt to a new environment.

“Just get a bike and bike around campus,” civil engineering junior Lentz said. “If they know someone already who is biking around downtown, meet up with them and pick a route.”

Wentz said another common mistake is checking your phone or listening to music. Students can join the Bike Alliance’s “bike buddies” program to pair with an experienced bicyclist.

UT Orange Bike Project shop offers rental bikes and helps students perform basic repairs.

For protecting your bike, UTPD Corporal Le’Patrick Moore said U-locks best lock bike frames, and students should lock their tires with a cable. Moore also said bike thefts often happen in the fall.

“September is usually when the school year starts, so that’s when all the bikes are coming in,” Moore said. “That’s when all the thieves are trying to find bikes that are easy targets.”

Moore said Duren Hall often gets targeted because it is secluded, so places such as Speedway are better to store bikes.

“Put your bike in a place that has a lot of foot traffic and a place that’s well lit,” Moore said.