University of Minnesota police followed through on its promise to crack down on bicycle traffic violations on campus.
Between Sept. 19 and Sept. 30, University police ticketed 62 bikers for $115 each, Deputy Chief Chuck Miner said. What were once free zones for student bikers to ride at their leisure are now being closely patrolled.
The rules against biking in pedestrian areas like Scholars Walk have been in place for some time, Miner said — police just decided to step up enforcement. This time last year, University police hadn’t given out any tickets for similar offenses, Miner said.
Students are beginning to follow the new law of the land. Police only issued two tickets Thursday and Friday, Miner said.
But University police’s presence on the Scholars Walk and around the Pillsbury Circle will continue at least through October.
“We could be doing this everywhere,” Miner said, noting that bikers are also riding on sidewalks and ignoring other traffic laws across campus. However, University police have only increased patrol on heavily-congested areas where complaints were raised.
Miner said the University’s new “Safety is Easy, The Pavement is Hard” campaign should focus more on bikers.
“Every single form of [biking-related] accident happened” in September, he said — bikers hitting bikers, bikers hitting buses and bikers hitting pedestrians. In each instance, Miner said the biker was at fault.
“It’s generally bicyclists running stop signs and stoplights,” he said.
Even after the patrols increased, a Sept. 29 accident in the Pillsbury Circle between two bikers sent one of them to the hospital with a femur injury, Miner said.
There were no serious injuries in September, but University police will continue combating biker traffic before it gets worse, Miner said.
Brittany Rasmussen, a University senior and a regular biker, said she is more cautious now that she has seen the increased patrol. She said she also sees more people complying with the rules when just last year they would have ignored traffic signs or biked on pedestrian sidewalks.
“I’m getting nervous,” said Teresa Hayes, another biker.
Rasmussen said in the past week, she has seen students all over campus “at least hesitating” before breaking traffic laws.
With this new awareness and increased patrol, Miner said he’s hopeful that students will begin to comply with the rules of the road and that future accidents will be avoided.