Improvements may come to biking facilities and bike safety at the University of Mary Washington with a newly proposed bike plan, which the plan hopes to connect bike paths from William Street to the campus, as well as implement separate bike lanes, extra lighting on paths, bike shelters, and maintenance centers
The plan was proposed by 2008 UMW Alumnus Justin Doyle and UMW Director of Landscape Grounds Joni Wilson.
As a UMW student, Doyle experienced the stress of biking around campus firsthand, including congested areas such as the Eagle’s Nest and car doors opening on College Avenue. Crowded bike racks, lack of bike lanes, lighting and shelter are pinpointed as being uncomfortable for bikers.
Doyle said he would like to see the UMW community help to create a solution.
To improve bicycle facilities and safety, Doyle introduced The Campus Bicycle Survey, which will be available through Feb. 17 2012 on the bike plan blog. Students will be able to provide comments and concerts about bicycling and being a pedestrian around campus.
“When we build new buildings, we’re adding more bike racks, but we don’t have a real comprehensive analysis of what people want verses what we have. To have an alumni who knows the campus, who has been here… wanting to do something that will actually be useful for us, it’s just perfect… Justin proves to be very professional in his approach and knowledgeable, I’m excited we’re going to get something that we can put into place,” Wilson said.
In mid-February, Doyle will conduct a crime, accident and theft analysis, which will clearly identify the problem areas for bikers around campus. Focus groups will allow students, faculty and staff to meet face-to-face and express their personal insights regarding dangerous areas and desired accommodations for bikers.
“Students and faculty walking and biking on campus on a day-to-day basis have a better idea of where improvements for bicycle racks and lanes can be made,” Doyle said.
UMW sophomore Jeff Branson bikes every day and has had close calls with pedestrians.
“Whether you’re in a hurry, or in congested areas, you’re prone to hitting people,” Branson said
According to the bike plan, walkers should not feel obligated to avoid bikers and vice versa. However, some students disagree.
“Bikers should have to heed to pedestrians, not the other way around. Unless conditions improve, bikers shouldn’t be allowed on Campus Walk and have to ride on the main roads,” said sophomore Peter Walters.
In the 2006 Pathway Plan, the City of Fredericksburg implemented shared roadways on William Street. Doyle hopes that UMW will connect these bike paths to campus.
“Looking inside campus where we have a lot of control is one thing, it’s going to be important to reach out to the city and have cooperation,” Wilson said.
Doyle believes the bike plan faces administrative, funding and geographic obstacles, such as the opinion that bicycle racks take away from UMW’s architectural beauty.
Hoping the student’s opinions will be well perceived by the administration, “It’s going to be a challenge,” Doyle said.