Vigar First Draft

Lauren Vigar

As the enrollment of students on campus keeps increasing, the amount of people populating campus also increases.

“With enrollment increasing on campus, we have more pedestrians, we have more bicyclists, we have more vehicles all the time,” said Anthony Greiter, Community Outreach Officer for the Iowa State Police.

Recently, there have been many accidents involving bicyclists and vehicles.  There are many contributing factors to these accidents, however one is more prevalent.

“There are rules that need to be followed that aren’t being followed on both parts, vehicle operators and bicyclists,” said Greiter.

Part of the problem is that many people do not know the rules. For optimum safety, bicyclists need to know their rules, and vehicle operators need to know the rules for bicyclists as well. If both parties knew rules and followed them, there could be more accidents prevented. 

The actual amount of accidents that are occurring is more than the number of reported accidents. Many people choose not to notify to police if it is not anything serious. People also do not report the amount of “missing” accidents, where an accident could have occurred had one party not swerved out of the way.

“Accidents are an inherent risk of cycling,” said Kelsey Regan, and Ultra Cycling coordinator of the ISU Bicycling Club. While accidents cannot be completely prevented, following proper safety procedures can reduce the number of these accidents.

“If cyclists want to be safe, then they need to have more safety gear than the law requires,” Regan said.

While helmets are not a required law in Ames, they are a vital safety device. Headlights are the only required piece of gear. Regan explained that gear bikers should be using include mirrors on the helmet, reflective gear, and extra headlights.

“Do as much as you can do to be visible to drivers,” Regan said.

It is not only bicyclists that need to be following the safety rules. Drivers should also understand rules for bicyclists so that they can help prevent accidents.

“Drivers get frustrated that bicyclists don’t ride at or above the speed limit,” Greiter said. While bicyclists may not be able to travel at the same speeds as cars, they are allowed to drive on the road as well. The only Ames road restrictions for bicyclists are North Grand and the interstate.

If bicyclists are choosing to drive on the road, they must be following the same rules as a car. For example, the must stop at stop signs and red lights, and they must use hand signals to display their turning directions.

Those who wish to advocate safe biking in Ames can join the Ames Bicycle Coalition, a new group.

Greiter is part of a new campaign on the Iowa State campus called “Take Care, Be Aware.” This campaign aims to teach the community how to be safe sharing a campus with bicyclists and vehicles.

“Take care of yourself while you are riding, know the rules that apply to your bicycle or vehicle,” Greiter said. It is important to know the rules of the opposite party, as well as practice being aware of what is going on in the area.

“Even people who are being extremely safe are still subjected to accidents,” said Regan, “they can never completely be prevented.”  Practicing bicycle safety can aid in preventing the amount of accidents that occur.