I am dismayed to see the opinion expressed by The Chronicle in regards to cycling. Cycling should be a priority for the Duke. As the University continues to expand, parking spaces disappear while demand increases. How should the University deal with this? Should Duke run more buses to remote lots or should Duke encourage cycling? Buses are expensive for the University. Biking is free. Where do you believe this money will come from?
The belief that campus safety is a more pressing issue is flawed because more cyclists would actually improve personal safety on campus. Having more people out and about around campus would deter crime, since a criminal would be more likely to be witnessed in the act. When has an extra set of eyes hurt?
Cycling and mass transit are both more environmentally friendly than everyone driving a car. The Chronicle, however, is considering this issue through its undergraduate bias. Duke is composed of nearly 30,000 people. About 5,000 of them live on campus. Not everyone has a Duke bus stop within walking distance of their front door. We do not mean for bikes to take over for the buses, we mean for bikes to complement buses.
The Chronicle is correct to point out that bikes do not belong on the Bryan Center walkway. Nearly every cyclist will agree on this point. If one is biking from the Campus Drive to Science Drive, however, this is the shortest route that does not involve dealing with a flight of stairs. Cyclists want greater accessibility so that we can avoid using the BC walkway. We enjoy riding on the BC walkway as much as pedestrians enjoy us riding on it. We want ramps and bike paths so that we are not a danger to pedestrians and so we do not endanger ourselves. The Chronicle is right to say that Duke needs ramps to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. An added benefit of being compliant, however, is that it is easier to bike around campus. Considering the cost involved with making campus compliant, the greatest benefits possible should be derived from this effort. The concerns of the disabled and cyclists need not be mutually exclusive.
Considering that we live in a time where many are overweight or obese, it is wrong for The Chronicle to not encourage people to exercise. A daily ride to class to lab to home can help an individual live a healthier life.
From the opinions expressed by The Chronicle, I do not believe that the editors of The Chronicle have ridden around campus and experienced the hell that is for many the daily commute. We deal with many challenges, from wheels getting caught in improperly placed drainage grates, to inconsiderate drivers, to having slop sprayed on us, to the completely deteriorated and barely maintained Duke roads, to inhaling exhaust from buses, to obstacles in the few extant bike lanes (often including University vehicles), to the lack of reasonable paths for bikes to travel. I ask those of you who feel that biking should not be a priority at Duke to take a ride on campus. Will you find it to be pleasant ride? Will you even find it to be adequate? The Duke Bike Advocates exist because the answer is a resounding no.
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