There are many reasons to ride a bike to college. First off, it’s good for the wallet, as riders save a large amount of money at the gas pump. Riders also save money that may have been spent at the gym, as the health benefits are incredible. Riding a bike relaxes the mind and body, is healthy for your heart, invigorates you and wakes you up from the morning grogginess. It is faster than walking and even faster than the bus sometimes. To boot, cyclists get to enjoy the great outdoors, miss that frustrating traffic and the footprint on the environment is almost nonexistent.
So why don’t more people do it? Danger is a main reason, especially with winter coming on. In addition, for students at the Taylorsville Redwood Campus, Redwood Road isn’t exactly the safest place in the world for cyclists.
“I’ve been hit once and crashed to avoid being hit three times on Redwood Road,” said digital arts student Rex Lewis. “A bike isn’t much of a threat to a car. I had to move to the other side of campus. Living on the other side of campus is way more safe than having to ride my bike down Redwood every day and especially at night. Even riding on the sidewalk isn’t safe. It is actually more dangerous because usually people are too busy with their phones to notice me coming.”
According to the Utah Department of Health, about 6 people die in bicycle accidents every year in Utah and another 850 are injured. In 2009, 630 bicyclists were killed and 51,000 were injured on America’s roads. According to experts, many minor accidents go unreported.
Ray Rico, who works at the Intermountain Medical Center, said that, “some of the most frightening injuries I have seen have been the result of bicycle/car collisions.”
Redwood Road has no bike lane and many Salt Lake Community College students will ride in traffic. This is relying very heavily on the fate of man and the awareness of drivers. But there are some things you can do to make your bicycling experience safer and more rewarding.
First, wear a helmet. Second, always dress for the weather. Being miserably cold can be distracting. Third, try to plan your trips away from fast moving traffic, going through parks and neighborhoods instead. Also, try to avoid narrow roads that have no bike lane. If you must ride in traffic, ride with the flow of traffic and never against it. Next, make certain your bike is in good working order, especially the brakes. Also, always try to be seen. Wear bright reflective clothing, lights and reflectors. As another safety measure, put your cell phone and headphones away. It is very important to hear what is going on around you.
Once you are actually on the road, there are some important safety measures to keep in mind also. First, do not pass on the right at lights. Cars may be turning that way. If traffic is heavy, walk your bike across intersections. Next, it is important to always stay alert, as you never know whether drivers are paying attention or not. Always assume that someone will make an unlikely move. Quite often that is the one which happens.
Take your time. Enjoy the fresh air and scenery. Relax, have fun, and be safe first, as riding a bike can be one of the most beneficial and rewarding things someone can do for themselves. Safe journeying.