In order to avoid the sometimes inevitable collision between bikers and pedestrians, a group is working to make UT-Austin a more pedestrian and cyclist friendly campus.
UT students gave their input on cyclist and pedestrian interactions yesterday at an interactive mapping event called Mapping Conflicts Areas on Campus, which attempted to identify campus areas of conflict between different modes of transportation, said community and regional planning graduate student Jared Genova. The event was hosted by the UT Safe Cycling Campaign, whose current focus is gathering input and opinions from students in order to make the University more accessible to both pedestrians and cyclists.
Community and regional planning graduate student Beth Rosenbarger led the event and said she, as a researcher in infrastructure and design, along with the UT Safe Cycling Campaign, is hoping to improve campus for cyclists and pedestrians and create a more environmentally sustainable campus.
“The University has an opportunity to be known as one of the most excellent cyclist and environmentally friendly campuses in the nation,” Rosenbarger said. “With a campus redesign currently in progress, now is the perfect time to reach our potential.”
The event provided multiple ways to gauge University opinion on the good and bad areas for commuting around campus. A large campus map was on display where passersby placed various colored stickers on streets that were either good or bad examples of pedestrian/cyclist interaction. Many participants also took a cyclist survey and wrote their opinions on a comment board.
The information gathered will be aggregated and presented at a panel discussion on April 13 in order to plan, design and create bicycle and pedestrian friendly spaces around campus.
Music junior Ammon Taylor participated in the interactive mapping and survey and said he cycles to stay healthy, enjoy himself and for many other ethical reasons.
“I have a passion for urban design and have come to the realization that cars make cities really shitty,” Taylor said.
Having commuted exclusively by bicycle for six years, Taylor said he thinks the most dangerous place on campus for pedestrians and cyclists is on 24th Street near Speedway and the Tower.
“I have seen bikes hit pedestrians in this area numerous times,” he said. “Pedestrians, especially those who text while crossing the street, need to be more aware and watch where they are going, and bicyclists should slow down and take better notice of their surroundings.”
Advertising junior John Aquino said he mainly walks to class and there are times when he crosses the street and cyclists do not stop at all.
“They sometimes even ride on the actual sidewalks,” Aquino said. “Don’t get me wrong, there are good cyclists out there, but many need to read up on the laws and rules concerning bike usage on campus.”
Civil engineering senior Aloysha King said he chooses to ride bikes to and from campus because it is a fun, efficient way of commuting that allows him to be more environmentally conscious and reduce his carbon footprint.
King said Speedway is a major conflict area for cyclists and pedestrians, especially on weekdays during the hours of 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
“People are walking down Speedway in both directions, and cyclists don’t seem to have a designated path,” King said. “That confusion added with the construction going on makes it a lot harder to commute for both parties.”
Rosenbarger said cycling can sometimes be intimidating for newcomers who have never cycled in urban areas. The best way to get accustomed to cycling is by riding in groups and with people who know how cycling around campus works, she said. The UT Safe Cycling Campaign is in the process of implementing a cyclist/pedestrian education training program into all UT freshman orientations so incoming students have a better understanding about commuting around campus.