Several years ago I suffered a head injury as a result of a bike accident; consequently, I am particularly conscious of the risks and possible dangers of biking.
My accident was the result of another cyclist getting too close and bumping my back tire, something that could happen any day here on campus. All of a sudden I flew over the handle bars, hit the pavement, flipped over, and slammed the back of my head against the road. The impact sounded like a bomb exploding inside my head, but I felt nothing because I was protected by the bike helmet I was wearing. Luckily, the bike club I rode with had a mandatory helmet regulation. If you did not wear a helmet, you did not ride with the club.
After the accident, I was taken to the nearest hospital in an ambulance, spent the rest of the day in emergency, and over the following week I experienced many symptoms of concussion, in spite of the helmet. It would have been a lot worse without it. I always wear a helmet now because I know how dangerous it is to ride a bicycle.
This fall, riding my bike around campus, I have noticed that bike traffic has grown increasingly dangerous. Here at Davis, people do not seem to have the awareness of how dangerous riding a bicycle, especially in a crowd, can be. I see very few helmets (even fewer worn on the cyclists’ heads) and almost no hand signals. I find this situation very frightening, especially with the added component of cyclists texting, talking on the phone, and wearing ear buds (in both ears).
Bicycle accidents do happen here. The cyclist in the accident that I witnessed on campus last Thursday afternoon was not wearing a helmet. During the time I stood by while the police, fire truck and ambulance arrived, the poor victim lay on the pavement, unmoving. A helmet regulation would have benefited that rider.
When almost no one wears a helmet, there is an assumed consensus that nothing dangerous will happen, but that is false. I propose that UC Davis adopt a mandatory helmet regulation to protect cyclists. In addition, bike training and licenses to ride would reduce the dangers of the road.
I don’t think 75 percent of the cyclists here know who has the right of way in a turn circle, do you? I rarely see anyone use hand signals to indicate turning and have never (I am in my sixth year at Davis) seen anyone use a signal to indicate stopping. Someone texting while riding a bike or a skate board is scary, especially when they are coming right at you. Pedestrians can also be hazardous. It is more than annoying to cyclists to see groups of people walking four abreast on the bike path; more than that, it is extremely dangerous.
Would it be crazy to suggest that bike and pedestrian paths be separated?
I know that regulating cyclists would not be popular. Who wants helmet hair or have to stick your hand out when you might turn? However, does anyone really want to lie unconscious in the street, or spend the day in emergency, or get to know how a concussion feels? It is not pleasant.
With plans to expand the campus, I can only see the danger getting worse and worse. Do we have to wait until there is a really bad accident or accidents to awaken from this sense of denial and create some protective regulations? I hope not.
Sixth-year senior at UC Davis