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Irresponsible bike riding could result in injury, death

Oct. 13, 2000

There are almost 1,000 people killed while riding bicycles every year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. And now I know why.

Last week, around 9:30 p.m., well after dark had set in, I was driving in my car down Bagby Street behind the McLane Student Life Center. As the cops are strict about enforcing the speed limit on that street now, I was going the maximum speed limit of 30 m.p.h. Then, about halfway toward the first stop sign at First Street, I suddenly noticed something right in front of my car. Struggling to figure out what it was, I slammed on my breaks to the sight of two neon-reflecting lights moving up and down. Those lights were the reflection of my car's headlights shining off someone's shoes. And then I knew exactly what was in front of me: some idiot riding a bicycle in pitch dark at 9:30 p.m. in the middle of one of the busiest roads around Baylor!

I don't know what amazed me more about that situation: the fact that I didn't notice the guy on the bike until I had nearly run over him, or the fact that he was actually riding a bicycle that late at night in the middle of a four-lane road. There have been 13 students killed in the past year at Baylor, and I know that if I had noticed this guy riding his bicycle one second later, I would have probably ran smack into

him. For a moment, I tried to imagine what it would have been like if I had run over him. Well, unfortunately, it didn't take long for me to have to think about that same question again.

Only a couple days later, I was driving 20 m.p.h., as that's the posted speed limit on Eighth Street, when, yet again, I was almost involved in a deadly collision with another student on a bicycle.

This time it was in broad daylight. While driving on the four-lane section of the street, a female zoomed across the street on her bike, just barely making it past my car in time. I went from having barely even noticed bicycles around campus, to nearly having a wreck with two, all within the same week.

Bicycles are a good and cheap way to get around campus. But the way people ride their bikes around here, somebody is going to get killed. Of all the students that have been killed in the last year at Baylor, surprisingly none of them have involved bicycles. Do these students think they have nine lives? Do they think they think that they own the roads and that everyone driving cars can magically anticipate when they will zoom across their path? Or, do they just have a death wish? I would like to know.

If you're going to ride your bike to get to class, or wherever you want to go, please take some of my advice:

First, always ride your bicycle on the sidewalk, or on the grass. Just make sure you're not on the road, especially a busy four-lane road. Second, if for some reason you have to ride your bike on a road, do it on the curb, or the edge of the street.

Under no circumstances should you ride in the middle of a road. Next, when you cross the street, make sure you do it at a four-way stop, so you don't have to dodge moving traffic. Last, if you want to stay alive, do not ride your bicycle at night. People can't see you. Those little reflectors on your bike or your shoes don't always show up in time for you to be noticed.

Have some sense, and ride your bikes responsibly. It can save your life, and if you don't believe that, just ask the families of the thousands who have been killed while on their bicycles every year.

(Clint Cox is a junior political science major from Paris, Texas.)