Bicyclists, pedestrians complain about bike accessibility on campus

bike

Josh Axelrod | Senior Staff Photographer

Bicyclists are faced with this warning sign before passing through Newcomb Place, warning them not to continue. This is one of many places that bike accessibility is interrupted by construction projects.

It’s 11:53 a.m., and freshman Jaa Charoenboriboon is trying to get to class. The only way for her to get there on time is by riding her bike. After leaving her dorm, however, she realizes she cannot take her usual commute because the construction projects are blocking her route.

She pursues an alternate route but faces a slew of obstacles along the way that make it challenging to navigate. Many students share this experience in their commutes to and from class due to bike inaccessibility on campus.

Many students choose to bike because they find it a necessary time-saver when commuting between classes to avoid being late. For Charoenboriboon and others, the recent construction projects on Newcomb Place between the Lavin-Bernick Center for University Life and the Howard-Tilton Memorial Library have had a direct impact on their commutes.

“Since they closed up the road in front of Howie T, it’s really annoying for rush hour … people keep coming, and I can’t bike through them,” Charoenboriboon said.

Uma Kumar-Montei faces similar problems in her biking route from Josephine Louise Residence Hall to her classes on the Academic Quadrangle. While she previously commuted through the parking lot at Newcomb Place, the construction projects have forced her to bike through McAlister Drive, which has its own accessibility issues.

“People on McAlister are always on their phones or listening to music — or even worse — both,” Kumar-Montei said. “None of them know that you’re coming, and they never move. It can make it very hard and dangerous …”

Despite the various projects and complaints, not all students express difficulties with biking accessibility on campus. For some, the recent construction projects have not affected their routes.

“I’ve been riding my bike since freshman year in 2015, and I would say that stuff hasn’t really changed,” junior Hamilton Beard said. “I definitely ride it around campus when I’m running late … but as far as accessibility goes, it’s totally fine.”

This being said, Undergraduate Student Government Senator Kyle McIntyre witnessed his friends experience similar problems with biking on campus. Last year, as a member of the Freshman Leadership Program, he tried to address these issues, starting an initiative with fellow FLP member Jake Collazo to add a bike lane on McAlister Drive.

After conducting research, though, they concluded that the project would not be practical.

“Because Green Wave ambassadors are always touring on that street, and occasionally they have food trucks coming down it, it just wasn’t feasible to have a bike lane.” McIntyre said. “[The campus facilities] use McAlister for their own functions and programs, so the idea that we would congest it with a bike lane was something they were not into possibly pursuing.”

Additionally, USG proposed adding a bike lane around the backroads of campus, but this project failed because the construction projects around the Howard-Tilton Memorial Library interfered with the route.

“They wanted to encourage bikers to take that route instead rather than take McAlister walkway and risk running into somebody,” McIntyre said. “It was something they were thinking about possibly encouraging with either signage or just a general kind of social media initiative, but then construction happened and now we barely have any space at all.”

McIntyre hopes that Tulane’s campus facilities can reach an alternative solution to improve biking accessibility on campus. For now, bikers must continue to have to weave between distracted students on McAlister Drive who are more concerned about the messages on their phones than the people in front of them.