I love riding my bike at the College of William and Mary. I know that by admitting that, most of the people reading this article now hate me, but I do. I love my bike. I used to be someone who couldn’t stand bikers on campus, and when one by one my friends started getting bikes, I gave every one of them a hard time. So, I completely understand why so many students hate bikers on campus.
Bikers on campus have a tendency not to look out for pedestrians, and because of this, students have developed a hatred for those with bicycles. Bikers zip through campus at what feels like a hundred miles per hour, with little to no regard for those who are just trying to walk to class. The number of times I have almost been bulldozed by bikers is more than I can count, and I have a ton of friends who have been hit by bikers who weren’t watching where they were going.
There is no debating that bikers here at the College must be more careful when riding their bikes. It is not the responsibility of pedestrians to look out for bikers, but rather it is the responsibility of bikers to look out for pedestrians. Irresponsible bikers are the reason why bikes on campus have such a bad reputation. However, please don’t let the handful of irresponsible bikers keep you from considering owning a bike.
I spent my entire freshman year without a bike. I was not aware of how much owning a bike could dramatically improve my life. I lived in Monroe Hall my freshman year, so fortunately I was relatively close to everything that I needed to get to. When I started regularly working out at the Student Recreation Center, however, things changed. The Rec is about a 15-to-20-minute walk away from Monroe. Obviously, a 20-minute walk is not the end of the world, but the Rec’s distance away from my dorm did prevent me from working out as much as I wanted to.
This year, I am even farther away from the Rec, and I knew that the extra five to 10 minutes added on to my walk would make a difference in how frequently I exercised. So, I caved and went to Target to buy a bike. I was annoyed with myself for becoming the thing that I could not stand: a campus biker. When I arrived at Target in search of a bike, I didn’t really know what to expect. I walked back to the bike section, and the minute I saw the blue and red bike hanging from the top shelf, I knew I was ready to become a bike owner.
Since that day, I have never looked back. Owning a bike has dramatically altered my campus life. Instead of taking 20 minutes to walk to the Rec, it now takes me about five minutes to get there on my bike. No longer is distance an excuse. Visiting my friends who live across campus is now infinitely easier thanks to my bike. The main reason I still regularly see my friends who live in Ludwell is the fact that I own a bike.
So, while some on campus may be anti-bike due to a few bad experiences with bikers, I want to encourage everyone not to let your bad experiences keep you from enjoying bike ownership. To all current bikers, I want to remind you not to mistreat pedestrians. Let’s work as a collective to improve our reputation on campus, and, hopefully, through that, more people will be open to the idea of owning a bike themselves.
Email Katherine Yenzer at firstname.lastname@example.org