I would like to take a few minutes to talk about…ok, let’s be honest, to rant about traveling around a college or university campus. Having spent the past few years driving, walking, biking, and riding a bus around campus, I would like to express some rather strong and at times annoying aspects of maneuvering around the jam packed environments of our beloved institutions.
Drivers- Ok, drivers. Let’s start with you. Roads are your territory generally speaking. However, with college and universities, this often times has a bit of a shift, especially with continual campuses (where the land is a large connected patch with all the buildings and facilities on it as opposed to spread out, i.e. throughout downtown of a city) who are shifting toward “pedestrian friendly campuses.” This means that you need to keep your eyes out because even if the person is not in a cross walk, guess who will get the benefit of the doubt in regards to the law.
It is also hard because our campuses are such hubs when it comes to visitation. You tend to get so many people that come to campus and have no idea where they are going, something that is always a problem if you have a lot of booths or one way streets or other unique travel patterns for drivers to deal with. Add in buses and driving on a campus becomes far more than a headache. As a driver, you must be a patient, yet aggressive driver (meaning when you get an opportunity or parking spot, you have to be willing to take it). As a southern driver, I remember a jazz musician visiting my high school one time and informing us that there were two places in the US that 4 way stops with signs could not exist: New York City and North Carolina. The reason is that in New York, Everyone would arrive and demand that everyone else wait for them to go while in NC, Everyone would show that “Southern Hospitality” and wait for everyone else to go. To be honest, neither approach will serve you effectively on a campus.
***One final note, if it is raining or otherwise inclement weather, have some respect for bikers and pedestrians who are not in a safe warm closed vehicle like yourself and if it is wet, never EVER speed through a puddle***
Bikers- Bikers, we are the mode of transportation without a home. Pedestrians get upset if we ride on the sidewalk and drivers get mad if you take up space on a road. There is no perfect way to deal with that.
First, always get to know the rules on your campus. My current campus recently changed from a policy where bikes could not travel on sidewalks to one where they could. These are always good things to know. But there are a few other elements to keep in mind.
Let’s start with when you are traveling on the road. Make sure you know your biker signals, seeing as you do not have brake lights or turn signals like cars do. This will indicate when you are preparing to stop or turn, saving you the headache of a car annoyed with your speed attempting to speed around you, at times cutting you off. Also be sure to follow the rules of the road. This includes stopsigns and signals. That being said, Drivers will hopefully also be respectful of you (there is nothing for me as a biker more annoying that having to give up all my hard earned momentum behind a driver who can’t figure out what they are doing or has to stop before going over a speed bump…really?!?!?)
Next is the sidewalk. First rule, be respectful of pedestrians. This is their territory, but you also have a spot here. However, there is one area where you have no right riding your bike: enclosed or tight high traffic area. For example, if you have a pedestrian tunnel, never ride it through, especially when busy. Never swerve between folks walking and never cut them off. That is rude, annoying, and just plain wrong.
Bus riders- Bus Riders, I have two crucial and important points for you: 1) Make sure you show up early in case your first bus is full, running late, or skips you for some reason and 2) Fill the bus. It is ok to sit next to someone and even to talk to people! *gasp* I know, talking to people…who would ever. I mean in this technological era where we can stick our noses in our phones or tablets and never have to talk to another human being, who would want to. Meeting new people is overrated, right? Grow up people, this is why our filters, professionalism, and interpersonal skills are failing.
Pedestrians- So now for pedestrians…there are so many words. For starters, look both ways. I mean, when you are about to step out into traffic, realize you are an adult (or supposed to be) and responsible for your safety so take a moment, turn your head toward each direction of oncoming traffic and LOOK BOTH WAYS BEFORE CROSSING THE STREET!!! There is no excuse for stepping into oncoming traffic and it is nothing less than rude and stupid to expect the drivers to accommodate you. You are partners on this campus so treat them as such, not as nurse maids who have to protect you from themselves because you cannot look out appropriately for yourself.
And certainly, when you get out in front of someone, especially when they are kind enough to stop and let you go, hurry and get out of their way. Don’t lolly-gag and merely stroll across, move yourself and get on with your life.
Thank you all for putting up with my rant and on a final note, no matter where or how you are traveling, please remember to always be respectful of one another.