Recent Bike Accidents Prompt Messages of Caution

Three bicycle accidents involving and injuring students have been reported to Campus Safety this semester, with two occuring in the last week. These accidents took place at various locations on campus, and at least two of them involved a car. While none of the accidents resulted in fatalities, Campus Safety sent a schoolwide warning last week urging greater bike caution.

According to Director of Campus Safety Mike Martinsen, despite only being five weeks into the semester, campus has had the same number of injury-causing bicycle accidents as typically occurs within a full school year. Martinsen expressed concern that some students may not be following Ohio vehicle laws.

Martinsen stated that Oberlin students generally wear helmets when bicycling but sometimes act unsafely in other ways. Martinsen has seen students wearing headsets which make it difficult to hear surrounding traffic, and bicycling after sundown in dark clothing with no lighting or reflective equipment.

“Our students are very comfortable on campus, and I think over time they’ve become casual operating their bicycles,” Martinsen said.

He stressed that there are numerous potential consequences if students don’t adhere to bicycle safety protocols, such as serious injuries or local law enforcement agencies enforcing bicycle safety and traffic laws more strictly. He asked students to follow several basic safety measures to avoid these outcomes.

“Wear your helmet, stay to the right side of the road, and never cross against traffic on your bike,” Martinsen said. “You always want to walk it across, and you want to make sure it’s clear in front of you.”

According to Martinsen, distracted drivers also contribute to bicycle accidents. With the common use of electronic navigation systems and cell phones, drivers might not be paying as much attention while they drive.

College fourth-year and Oberlin Bike Co-op copresident Zola Haber encouraged cyclists to wear helmets and stated that the Bike Co-op offers students bicycle safety resources. At the Bike Co-op, students can obtain reflectors to attach to their bicycles to increase visibility when cycling in the dark. Besides providing safety features, the co-op also offers general bicycle resources, such as maintenance and repairs.

“A safer bike is a bike that works, and the Bike Coop can help with that,” Haber wrote in an email to the Review.

According to Haber, the Oberlin Bike co-op will be discussing bicycle safety measures at its meeting today, and Haber is brainstorming other ways to promote bicycle safety on campus.

“I am considering making basic bike safety/bike ownership pamphlets, including things like ways to avoid getting your bike stolen and turn signals,” they wrote.