UNC Asheville bikers reap benefits of bicycle safety programs

By Ashika Raval – araval@unca.edu – Staff Writer

With the expansion of the greenway system and biking programs, more bikers are able to travel safely all around campus and throughout Asheville, as indicated by the overflow of bikes on UNC Asheville’s bike racks.

“I think biking in Asheville can be easy, but I would be careful around some roads and hills. I would definitely tell all students to use Broadway over Merrimon,” said UNCA sophomore Gardner Goodall, a commuter student who rides his bike every day, rain or shine.

Approximately 4.5 miles of greenway trails are available to bikers and many more are planned for the future. During the next 10 years Asheville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department plans for an additional 11 miles.

Last Thursday, UNCA’s Student Environment Center, Campus Recreation and Parking and Transportation Services hosted the Bulldog Bicycle Bonanza.  From 12 to 4 p.m. on the quad, bicycle safety and maintenance workshops informed students about the bicycle laws and ways to bike safely.  Local stores such as Mast General raffled off bicycle safety equipment.

The highlight of the event was the opening of the new DIY repair station next to Zeis Hall, which is a bicycle fix-it stand that complements the school rack and will make for safer biking.

“It’s the responsibility of the bicycle commuters to make sure that they have proper safety equipment (bicycle helmets and lights), but it’s everyone’s responsibility to make sure that they are respected as commuters. Promoting bicycle commuter awareness and appreciation will further ensure their safety in the presence of automobile transportation,” Julie Tierney, co-director of UNCA’s Student Environmental Center, said.

In North Carolina bicycles hold the legal status of a motor vehicle. Therefore, they have the same rights and responsibilities and are subject to the same government regulations as any other vehicle.

Traffic laws require bicyclists to ride on the right in the same direction as other traffic, obey all traffic signals and signs and use hand signals to communicate intended movements.  The law also requires that bicyclists equip their bicycles with a front lamp visible from 300 feet and a rear reflector that is visible from a distance of 200 feet when riding at night.

The Bulldog Bicycle Bonanza intends to raise awareness of bicycle commuting as a major mode of transportation on campus.

“We want to encourage safety,” said Eric Boyce chief of police at UNCA, who also encourages bicycling on campus.

Bicycle safety clinics and booths shared information with students on how to safely ride throughout campus and how to handle your bike.

According to the Division of Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation of the North Carolina Department of Transportation, in 2011 three fatalities and 78 injuries in bicycle-vehicle related crashes were reported in the 17 far western counties of North Carolina. In 2010, there were 105 reported injuries and no deaths.

“It couldn’t have been done without the help of Jeremiah Hoss from UNCA Campus Recreation and Garret Male from parking and transportation services,” said Tierney, who has worked on this event since January.

The number of student bikers at UNCA rises every day due to the many biker friendly paths around campus and the on campus bike store. The bike store has a fleet of 35 or more bikes available for free weekly rentals, sometimes even having a waitlist.

 

Fix-It DYI bike station just opened up next to Zeis Hall. Photo by Ashika Raval - Staff Writer
Fix-It DYI bike station just opened up next to Zeis Hall.
Photo by Ashika Raval – Staff Writer

“Because UNCA is so biker friendly, it makes it really easy to be a biker on campus and a lot of people should do it. It would benefit the school and student body if a lot people biked around campus. I don’t have any other way of getting around besides my bike, but I don’t really need another way,” Goodall said.

 

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