Bikes are problematic safety concern, daily source of stress for pedestrians

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Every Tuesday and Thursday, I have a mere 10 minutes to traverse campus from Morton Hall to Washington Hall. I’m an aggressively fast walker, so, despite the occasional panic that I’ll be late, I usually make it to my Chinese class with a few seconds to spare. Sure, the calloused feet and sweaty hair that frequently result from these bi-weekly sprints aren’t ideal, but my speedy jaunts are made unbearable due to one factor: the presence of bicycles at the College of William and Mary.

I do not say that bikes are the bane of my existence lightly. On numerous occasions, my jovial walks have been abruptly interrupted by bicyclists whizzing past me with little regard for my existence. I frequently listen to music when I’m meandering around the College, and my bop sessions in between classes are an excellent way to recharge myself during stressful afternoons. Like every other twamp in Williamsburg, my free time is sparse — having built-in time to relax to some Courtney Barnett or listen to a political podcast is wonderful, and my quick walks should be enjoyable experiences.

Unfortunately, bikes prevent that idyllic scene from ever fully materializing. Bicyclists mistakenly interpret my wearing headphones as a signal that I am somehow in a bubble of my own and that I care little about what’s going on around me. To this end, instead of attempting to yell out any cautionary phrases regarding the two-wheeled menace barreling down at me, bicyclists just zoom right by and leave me awash in a fit of confusion. It is an incredibly jarring feeling to have a bike materialize seemingly out of thin air mere inches from my body, and I’d prefer to avoid shots of adrenaline coursing through my veins on an hourly basis.

This problem is especially bad on the inclined path between the Sadler Terrace and the Integrated Science Center as there is not a clearly defined bike path, leaving bicyclists and pedestrians to intermingle in a pit of anxiety-ridden anguish. Every time I walk up this path, it is inevitable that at least one bike wil come within a foot of me as it careens down toward Ukrop Way and into my nightmares. Some bicyclists even seem to relish the fact that their movements are unclear and unpredictable, and, as such, their bike paths cultivate elaborate curvatures designed to make everyone around them fear a potential collision. It would be one thing if bikes traveled linearly but the winding nature of their existence is deeply troubling.

I know that bikes are wonderful for the environment and that they provide students with an effective means of getting around campus quickly. I would estimate that a solid 98 percent of my antagonism towards bicycles is entirely devoid of rational or intellectual grounding. But that being said, I should not feel unnecessarily nervous about being impaled by a bicycle every time I stroll around campus. We all want easy and stress-free experiences getting around campus. To that end, I have one suggestion.

It’s called walking.

Email Ethan Brown at [email protected]