An increase in the number of students on the Oregon State University campus this year has led to more negative interactions between bicyclists, pedestrians and vehicles, and actions are being planned to address this.
There has already been at least one documented collision this term between a bicyclist and a pedestrian, and Lt. Steve Mitchell of the Oregon State Police says the complaints have gotten so frequent that OSP and the OSU Department of Public Safety are planning an intervention.
“We call it enforcement by education,” Mitchell said. On Wednesday and Thursday, Nov. 7-8, from 1 to 4 p.m., OSP and DPS will conduct a saturation operation on Jefferson Street in front of the Kerr Administration Building, on Campus Way near the Memorial Union.
Mitchell said increasing congestion on OSU streets and sidewalks, especially in the 10 minutes before and after class begins, has been made worse by those who don’t follow traffic laws.
“It’s not just bicyclists, it’s pedestrians and other vehicles too,” Mitchell said. He said it appears that many bicyclists don’t know that they are subject to the same laws as any other moving vehicle, or disregard that fact, and are frequently seen blasting through stop signs or weaving in and out of areas where they shouldn’t be riding.
Meanwhile, pedestrians are stepping out without looking or listening for bike traffic, increasing their risk of being struck. On one recent afternoon, five cars were pulled over by OSP after running stop signs on campus.
“We just want to make everybody safe,” Mitchell said. “That’s our highest priority.”
Officers will have discretion whether or not to issue citations during the saturation operation. If cited, bicyclists violating traffic laws could face the same court appearance and $260 fine as an automobile driver. But most of the interactions on Nov. 7-8 will be the start of a conversation about the safe and legal ways to get around campus, officials said.
~ Theresa Hogue