Daniel Chi / Asst. photo editor
In the first eight months of 2012, there were a total of seven bicycle accidents on Ohio State’s campus, but that number skyrocketed with the addition of four accidents in September alone.
The increased number of accidents hasn’t gone unnoticed by the university or students.
Alex Smith, a graduate student in city and regional planning and president of Bike OSU, said the increase in accident numbers seems shocking.
“The increase does seem drastic,” Smith said. “The increase is important to take notice of whether we’ve seen an increase like this before or not.”
Lindsay Komlanc, spokeswoman for OSU Administration and Planning, said the numbers are misleading because there are fewer commuters on campus in the summer.
“Conditions on campus were not the same for a significant period of those months,” Komlanc said. “During Summer Semester, including June, July and most of August, there are typically fewer pedestrians and bicyclists, and a significantly reduced number of vehicles on campus.”
Six of the seven accidents between January and August were collisions between bicyclists and vehicles, while one was between a bicyclist and a pedestrian.
After several of the September accidents, OSU President E. Gordon Gee formed a Traffic Safety Task Force, headed by Jay Kasey, senior vice president of Administration and Planning, and Javaune Adams-Gaston, vice president of Student Life. The task force was set to present recommendations on how to make campus safer for students Oct. 1.
But more than two weeks later, on Oct. 16, the task force sent an email to all OSU students, faculty and staff, making its recommendations. The email stated that OSU is working with the City of Columbus to find both short- and long-term solutions to further enhance safety on campus roads, High Street and crosswalks.
One short-term solution in the email that was approved by Gee was that, “The Oval will be established as a dismount zone for cyclists to begin a cultural shift on campus regarding which modes of transportation are safe and suitable for specific areas.”
None of the bike accidents that have been recorded by The Lantern occurred on or near the Oval.
This solution could bring ease to some students who don’t feel completely safe riding their bikes. Some students say they have to be aware of other motorists and pedestrians who aren’t as careful when it comes to following traffic rules.
In the Oct. 16 email, the task force also recommended adding signs to areas near crosswalks and issuing citations to students who don’t follow the traffic regulations. Most of the recommendations are not expected to be fully implemented for another four to six months, while others will begin to be put into place within two months.
In an interview with The Lantern, Adams-Gaston said it will take the university several months “to make sure that we are creating the right educational materials, make sure we’re getting the signage down in the crosswalks, make sure that we begin to have the conversations in the resident halls and the off-campus area.”
In a Sept. 10 interview with The Lantern, Gee attributed the increase in accidents to campus construction and changes that came with the semester conversion.
“I think it is because of the rhythm of change from quarters to semesters, and the fact that we are doing so much construction on campus,” Gee said. “Those are probably the two major issues.”
Leesha Bolton, a fourth-year in public health, said most bikers on campus are reckless and she has to be extra careful while driving.
“Bikers are really dangerous on campus,” Bolton said. “You should be defensive all the time, no matter if you’re a biker, pedestrian or driver because I see collisions all the time.”
Although the month of September saw a major increase in bike accidents, some students expect the numbers will decrease in the future.
Dominic DiCamillo, a first-year in business administration, said he thinks the numbers will go down as the weather gets colder.
“Riding conditions will be a lot worse in the winter, so there will probably be less bike traffic,” DiCamillo said. “I think ideally the number of accidents will go down, because not that many people will want to ride their bikes in the bad weather.”