Out on the open road

You’d be surprised what bike laws you might be violating.

Nobody likes to pay for parking.

Nobody likes to pay for gas either, for that matter. When you think about it, driving can get expensive really quickly. When you’re parking on campus, you can expect to pay $0.60 per hour in most garages — and that’s not including all the gas you used to circle around until you finally found a spot. If you’re like me and have to spend seven hours or more on campus some days, you can easily expect to pay more than $5 just to have your car on campus. No Chipotle for you.

For this reason, many students bike on campus. It’s faster than walking, cheaper than driving and you get to skip the gym that day. Unfortunately, biking is the happy medium between walking and driving that somehow makes every other kind of commuter unhappy. You’re in the middle of the food chain, trying not to hit pedestrians while trying not to get hit by cars. So what can you do to be safe?

“The most important thing is to slow down and be courteous because you have people complaining about bicyclists, bicyclists complaining about people and cars complaining about all of the above,” MU Police Captain Brian Weimer says. “Everybody just needs to be respectful of each other.”

Accidents are rare on campus, but you don’t want to be that one person that everybody hears about, so here are some things to keep in mind if you bike on campus:

Bikes have the same rights to be in the street as cars. That being said, you are much smaller and more vulnerable than a driver, so bike on the right side of the road and obey all traffic laws. You and your buddies can ride next to each other if you’re not blocking traffic.

Helmets are not required if you’re more than 15 years old.

You still have to stop at stop signs, even if you’re on a bike. MUPD does give out tickets for this. You can’t make illegal U-turns while riding a bike, either. Hop down and walk your bike like a pedestrian.

Biking is allowed on sidewalks on campus, but not in the downtown area of Columbia. When you passing a pedestrian on the sidewalk, you have to give them an audible warning. (Yes, even if they have headphones in.) The most common alert is “on your left!”

All bikes must be registered with MUPD to bike on campus. While this is technically a law, MUPD will not chase you down and give you a ticket if you’re not registered. Registering just gives you a much better chance of getting your bike back if it gets stolen.

Don’t hold anything in your hands when you’re biking. Invest in a rack (basket?) or get one of those cute wicker baskets for your books. It’s the law.

Be careful. No, seriously, there is a section of traffic law devoted specifically to this. As a vehicle on campus, you have a duty to avoid getting into an accident. Share the road with cars, and remember that pedestrians have the right of way.

Enjoy your newfound freedom, and go eat some more Chipotle.

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