COLUMN: Following rules and having patience will keep everyone safe on sidewalks


Earth’s white blanket has withered away and bikes are being unchained on Central Michigan University’s campus.

It is time to share the sidewalk. 

Last semester, I left an evening class in Anspach Hall and began walking to my dorm room in Thorpe Hall. The sun was beginning to set, dimming peoples field-of-vision.

I was walking on the right side of the sidewalk, like everyone should, when I noticed a biker barreling toward me on a collision course.

I tried to get the rider’s attention, but his headphones kept him steamrolling in his single-minded course of destruction. At the last minute, he lifted his eyes from his handlebars and made an effort to swerve around me. 

His effort to avoid me was somewhat successful. He managed to only hit my foot, sending him out of control into the grass. 

The student lifted himself from the cold grass and brushed himself off. 

“Sorry, bro,” he said. “I didn’t see you.”

He definitely had eyes and was not blind. He was just careless. 

These instances seem to be rare. I fortunately can say I had a close call, but it is only a matter of time before someone gets seriously hurt. 

When riding a bike, skateboard or longboard, make sure to follow the written and unwritten rules of the sidewalk and be considerate of walkers. 

A Michigan law states bicycles may be ridden upon a sidewalk but must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians. Also, an audible signal before overtaking and passing a pedestrian is required. 

Being on a faster mode of transportation does not mean weaving through a crowd of people or pedaling dangerously fast among walkers. 

Sometimes it is best to walk your bike in a congested area — for example, the south entrance of Charles V. Park Library in the afternoon. 

The chief of all rules — do not go faster than a relaxed jog. The sidewalk is built for pedestrians, so bicyclists and boarders should not be going much faster than them. 

The pedestrian has the right of way. Do not expect a walker to stop so you can pass or cross in front of them on the sidewalk. 

But it is not only bicyclists and boarders who have trouble following these rules. Walkers seem to have trouble walking at a pace or in a way that benefits everyone on the sidewalk.

Most college students have driver’s licenses and know the regulations placed on drivers. Sidewalks should work just like the road. 

Each side of the sidewalk should maintain separate lanes for people going opposite directions. Make sure someone knows you are going to cut in front of them and please — do not walk while texting. 

I have thought about taking a group of volunteers and painting yellow lines on the sidewalks. I have thought about making signs that simply read “do not text and walk” — something I am sometimes guilty of. 

Bikers, boarders and walkers all need to have patience and follow the all rules of the sidewalk. 

Doing so can go a long way in keeping others safe. 

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