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Rice’s Bike Policy Needs upgrade, Annoys

Another one of my letters to the editor of the Rice Thresher [1] got printed in the October 10, 2008 issue [2]. This time, I complained about the new bike policy that bans biking on sidewalks entirely.

It’s the third letter [3] down:

Bike policy needs upgrade, annoys

To the editor:

Today, I was stopped for the first time for biking on the sidewalk, even though I was using the bell that the Rice University Police Department had handed out, in addition to yelling a courteous “Excuse me… Thank you.” As law-abiding citizen, I pushed my bike from the music school to Duncan Hall and thus had plenty of time to think. I came to the conclusion that the bike policy goes too far.

In 21 years as a cyclist, I have never made contact with a pedestrian or other cyclist, so I am convinced that a “yell or bell” policy is sufficient. If biking on sidewalks, at any speed, with all due caution, really is so dangerous that it needs to be banned entirely, then the administration should consider the following:

1) The Inner Loop is currently a one-way road. Depending on where bikers enter campus and where they need to go, this could double the distance that needs to be biked on the loop. A narrow “contra-flow” bike lane on the loop in the opposite direction would be tremendously beneficial.

2) Since many buildings are not adjacent to the Inner Loop, there need to be more bike stands along the loop. The number of bike stands near shuttle stops is not nearly sufficient.

3) To avoid the impression that Rice is using the imposed fines to (minimally) pad its bottom line, it should be clear what the revenue is used for and that students benefit from it.

I hope that the administration will reconsider the current outright ban of biking on sidewalks and find a middle ground that provides both safety and convenience.

Mathias Ricken
Computer science graduate student

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