Opinion: How to avoid being struck by a bike in 7 steps, according to this bicyclist

By Tierra Carpenter, @Tierramc_

As someone who has ridden a bike on campus for the past two years, I have noticed a lot of hostility toward bike riders from pedestrians and motorists. Some students have even gone as far as saying people shouldn’t be allowed to ride bikes on campus.

Bikes are a widely used way to minimize travel time on campus even though they can sometimes be dangerous for myself and others. There are approximately 3,100 active bike registrations on campus, said Eli Epplin, assistant coordinator of SIU’s Parking Division.

I dream of a campus where bike riders and pedestrians can safely coexist, love and respect each other. I think that starts with us figuring out how we can avoid butting heads, and I mean that literally because that may actually happen if we don’t get a handle on reducing the likeliness of collisions. Starting with pedestrians, here is a list of six things you can do to avoid getting hit by a bike.


Look up, and not at your phone

I can’t even count how many times I have almost run into someone because they were looking at their cell phone instead of their surroundings. I know it’s the 21st century, and humans may have shorter attention spans than goldfish, but at least try to look up every once in awhile to see if a person on a bike is peddling toward you. You may think it’s easy for them to swerve around you, but it’s not so easy when there are others near who also aren’t paying attention.

Don’t stand in the middle of walkways when having conversations

I shouldn’t have to wait for people to move just to get through an area that would be open if they weren’t using it as their personal meeting place. At least one thing bike riders and pedestrians should be able to agree on is that this is rude to literally everyone around, and no one likes the people that do this.

If you’re walking on the bridge try to follow the writing on the pathway that designates the sides you should walk on

There is at least one place on campus that has specific sides for those who are walking and those who are riding, and that is the bridge between East Campus and the main campus. You may not have noticed because they should probably be repainted (in a color other than white), but on one side of the bridge you’ll see “BIKES ONLY” and on the other side you’ll see “PEDS ONLY.” Follow these words and you may be able to make everyone’s least favorite part of the day, crossing the bridge a little less painful.

When walking toward or away from the bridge, always be extra cautious


One of the best, most rewarding feelings for bike riders after making it over the bridge is the 20 mph victory cruise we get to take at the end of it. Now wouldn’t that feeling be a lot worse if we ran into a person at the end instead of smoothly gliding into a spot on a bike rack?

That’s why it is crucial that no one ever stands on either end of the bridge unaware of their surroundings. I promise you, you are not safe there.

Of course the person on the bike should also be paying attention and aware of any upcoming pedestrians, but they also shouldn’t be traveling at such a fast speed in the first place. Since we all know they aren’t going to slow down, take your safety in your own hands and look out.

Don’t walk with headphones so loud you can’t hear your surroundings

The Illinois Bicycle Rules of the road book suggests that when approaching a pedestrian from behind cyclists slow down and give an audible signal to make them aware of their presence before passing, but most people can’t hear the warning due to headphone usage.

I am one cyclist who tries to give us a good name by being as polite as possible when it comes to passing pedestrians, but it gets a little hard when they can’t even hear your kind gestures.

Way too many people walk around with headphones on, oblivious to the world around them and this is an overall threat to your safety, not only because of bikes, but also emergency vehicles and anything else that may come your way when you can’t hear.

It’s smart to listen to only one headphone in public just so you can avoid any mishaps because of hearing obstruction. Besides, you never know when one of us riders might actually want to be polite, and say excuse me, instead of almost running into you when passing by.

Try not to walk in the middle of the sidewalk

You never know when a bike rider might cruise on to the sidewalk so you want to always be aware. If you insist on having in headphones or being on your phone while walking, the least you could do is stick to one side of the sidewalk.

This makes it so if you and a cyclist are on the sidewalk alone, they won’t have to call out to you to move over or swerve on and off the grass to get around you.

I would like to direct my last tip to cyclists.

The most important rule is … DON’T HIT THE PEDESTRIANS!

The pedestrians have the right-of-way to all vehicles, including bikes. Please show the same amount of politeness, respect and awareness that we expect of them, and we should all be able to exist on a collision-free campus.

Here are a few rules you may not know for riding a bike on campus, according to the 2015/2016 SIU Parking Division Regulations.

“Persons riding bicycles on campus shall practice courteous, defensive riding, giving due consideration both for pedestrians and for conditions that require traveling at safe speeds and having their bicycles under control at all times,” according to section 11-101 B.

“The operator of a bicycle shall yield to pedestrians in all situations of conflicting bicycle/pedestrian traffic. Pedestrians are prohibited from walking in a designated bicycle-only lane,” according to section 11-102.

“No person shall operate on campus a bicycle that is in such unsafe condition as to endanger any person or property or that is not equipped as required by the Illinois Vehicle Code,” according to section 11-103.

Any person who receives a citation for failure to yield to pedestrians will be charged a $4 fine, according to section 11-104 and section 12-101.

Lastly, if a cyclist and pedestrian collide, “the responding officer takes a statement from both parties involved and evaluates the circumstances around the incident to determine if one or both parties involved are at fault in some way,” Epplin said.

Tierra Carpenter can be reached at [email protected] or 618-536-3325.