As a student who rides his bike a lot on campus during warmer months, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been riding somewhere and finding myself behind walking people who are spanning across the entire sidewalk. It’s courtesy and no big deal to say excuse me (though more difficult if they are wearing earbuds), but I still find it annoying to have to do it as frequently as I do. With a university as populated as Grand Valley, I feel we really need more bike-only sidewalks like the ones near Lot H.
GVSU usually has many students walking around during the day, especially in the late morning. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean less bike-riders. Ever since my first semester here, I’ve found it difficult to maneuver through the crowds surrounding the Carillon tower and across the Mackinac Bridge (not that I’m implying we add to the bridge). However, biking lanes and sidewalks in well-populated areas of campus would certainly be beneficial for everyone. These sidewalks don’t even have to be elaborate and decorative. All that is needed is a simple sign or white paint of a bike on the ground to indicate that it will be bike-busy.
I doubt that bikers are not the only ones who feel this way. While walking, I often find myself being cautious about bikers ahead of me or to my sides. I’m sure that other people, especially those carrying many books and materials, would find it less stressful to have to watch out for anyone on a bike traveling faster than their walking pace. People from fraternities and clubs are also found in such public places, speaking and/or promoting events, which only adds to the stress of trying to avoid a collision. Fraternities put much time and effort into their presentations, and they should not be ruined by an accidental run-in by someone on a bike trying to get by the many students gathered to listen to what these people have to say.
Another important factor is drivers. Whenever I’m riding through a parking lot area or street with an unsuspecting walker ahead of me, I sometimes will move into the street to pass them. I always try to make sure I am on the shoulder and out of the way if possible, but I would imagine that not every biker would take such precautions. Since some areas of campus are busy, a car having to make a sudden swerve puts numerous people in danger. This puts pressure on drivers to watch out for someone on a bike appearing in the street out of nowhere.
To be clear, I am not saying this should be our top priority, especially if our budget can’t afford it. However, given the fact that safety is very important to everyone at Grand Valley, I feel it should definitely be considered. With bikers having their own sidewalk lanes, it will be much easier to maneuver around the people walking to avoid any injuries and collisions. It’s not a foolproof plan, but it can’t hurt to give it a shot and see what happens.