Speaking Out

Bicycle Safety: It's Time

Over the past decade, we have raised the continuing problem of bicycle riding on the Penn campus. The recent deaths of Benjamin Tencer and Sung Woo Yang make the issue even more pressing and steps have to be taken to face the reality that bike riding is here to stay. Simply ignoring the problem will result in more deaths and injuries.

As we have remarked before, the bicycle has helped to make this large urban campus one university. For those of us who teach at different sites across the campus, the bicycle provides a mode of transportation that is fast, reliable and non-polluting. In addition, it provides rapid access to all parts of the campus, especially the hospital-medical school complex and the dental school. For the many faculty, staff and students who bicycle to and from work, this form of transportation helps to ameliorate problems linked to traffic congestion, parking and air pollution.

The absence of bike lanes is compounded by the extensive construction that now engulfs most of the campus. To cross the campus rapidly, bicycling on Spruce or Chestnut Streets has become a death-defying ride. Not surprisingly, accidents have occurred and will continue to occur with increasing frequency. The only sane approach is:

  • to construct bicycle paths on the campus. We urge that the bicycle transportation and traffic plans for the second millennium (Almanac October 5) be activated immediately.
  • to design and place "bumps" at strategic locations to slow the speed of the bicycles (particular over the 38th Street bridge). If designed carefully these bumps should not impede the free flow of vehicles for the handicapped.
  • to enforce a highway code for all Penn bicyclists and encourage the Campus Police to stop riders who travel too fast or show no respect for pedestrians.
  • to provide bike racks in close proximity to new paths. We should even consider providing bike lockers at 30th Street station for suburban commuters.

We believe that these steps will serve to segregate bicyclists from pedestrians, decrease the severity of accidents, should they occur, and be self-regulating.

--Irving Shapiro, Professor of Biochemistry/Dental

--Britton Chance, Professor Emeritus, Biochemistry & Biophysics

--Alan Mann, Professor of Anthropology

--Howard Kunreuther, Professor of Operations & Information Management

--Daniel Malamud, Professor of Biochemistry/Dental

Speaking Out welcomes reader contributions. Short, timely letters on University issues can be accepted by Thursday at noon for the following Tuesday's issue, subject to right-of-reply guidelines. Advance notice of intention to submit is appreciated.--Eds.

Almanac, Vol. 46, No. 9, October 26, 1999