CSE to Increase Safety Awareness for Bicyclists on Campus

Jacob DeCarli ‘22, Managing Editor

Preparations for a new bicycle safety program are underway after recent accidents sparked concerns throughout campus. 

There were four student accidents while riding bicycles during the Fall 2019 semester. Three of the accidents involved only the students, but in Sept., a student was struck by a car while riding their bicycle in the streets, according to Assistant Vice President of Compliance and Public Safety Dee Danser. Bicycle accidents reported to Dickinson Public Safety increased by three between the Spring and Fall 2019 semesters. 

The increase in accidents motivated the Center for Sustainability (CSE) to make additions to their current bicycle safety trainings and form a more centralized program. According to Sustainability Learning Coordinator Cody Rosenbarker, current bicycle safety trainings do not reach all student bicycle owners on campus. “We are always doing bike safety things,” said Rosenbarker, about bicycle pre-departure meetings and green bike orientation. “But, we are only reaching the people that go to our events or taking our bikes,” he said. 

Nathan Stull ’21 was struck by a motor vehicle in the middle of a four-way intersection behind Allison Hall. Stull came to a stop but “slightly went through the stop sign” and the driver “didn’t see me until the last second,” he said. The motor vehicle driver hit Stull’s back tire and launched him forward from his bicycle. “I definitely could’ve looked more and took more time at the stop,” Stull said.

Additionally, the Sept. accident caused CSE to reevaluate their bicycle trainings. Rosenbarker explained that the accident and issues of bicycle safety are “more on peoples’ minds” and allows for CSE to “have people understand a little more and heed on our message [of bicycle safety].” Rosenbarker, in combination with Safety & Emergency Management Specialist Daniel Berndt and the current bike intern for CSE, is creating a multi-faceted approach to bicycle safety on campus with four primary goals. These goals include increasing helmet usage, enforcing bicyclists to use directional signals, encouraging bicyclists to ride as far right to the road as possible and sending the overall message that bicycles are vehicles and should be operated as such. “Hopefully, people are more receptive to these messages following the [September 2019] accident,” said Rosenbarker.

CSE Bike Intern Claudia Bonaccorsi ’22 reiterated the importance of the message that bicycles are vehicles. “When someone gets on a bike, they are taking on a certain responsibility to make sure they get to their destination safely as well as do not harm others in the process,” she said. Bonaccorsi continued, explaining that educating students on how to practice safer bicycle riding behaviors will help students “interact with bicycles in a safe manner that will positively contribute to their lives and the lives of others.”   

Stull explained that he is an “avid biker” and that he is well versed in common rules. “I’ve trained for triathlons and stuff,” Stull said, “so I know a lot of the rules of the road for bikers, but I feel like a lot of people on campus don’t.” Stull continued that he is supportive of CSE’s new bike safety program because “it would be good to [spread] a wider array of [safe] bike behaviors on campus,” he said.

The new program will provide training to bicyclists on common safety rules and will mirror the Green Devil certification training, a program that evaluates students on their sustainable habits and actions they can take to reduce their carbon footprint. Rosenbarker explained that students who complete this training will become a “bike safety advocate” and be provided with physical signage of their status, like the Green Devil certification. The initial target audience of this training will be for current green bike users to “give [them] tools and resources to be safer and also protect other people,” said Rosenbarker. He also explained that the program will provide more trainings to green bike users who are only required to complete one training session to access a bike. 

Rosenbarker explained that the program may take a while to reach the full target audience. “I think the danger is to put a certain amount of effort into it and see right away that it’s not picked up by half of campus,” he said. 

The new safety training program is projected to start in Spring 2020. There are no predictions as to how these four bicycle accidents on campus in combination with the new bicycle safety program will affect the college’s bike safety rank. According to Bicycling.com, as of Fall 2018, Dickinson College is ranked no. 4 in the list of “Most Bike Friendly College Campuses in America.”