By McKenzie Badger
Sunday, September 12, 2010 10:00 p.m.
Updated Sunday, September 12, 2010 8:01:33 p.m.
With more than 900 acres of campus to navigate, many students at the University of Wisconsin prefer riding bicycles to class. However, cyclists are the targets of an increased enforcement measure by the UW Police Department, officials said Friday.
Cyclists who do not follow proper biking etiquette and laws will soon get a rude awakening as UWPD is cracking down on bikers in the downtown area.
UWPD Sergeant Aaron Chapin said officers will be on the lookout for bicyclists running stoplights and stop signs, as well as those biking without taillights or on the wrong side of the road.
The violations will earn offenders a $150 citation, Chapin said.
Often fellow bikers and pedestrians are scared of other bikers, UW junior Hannah Boldt said.
“It’s scary, there are many stupid bikers, so many of them don’t wear helmets and are disrespectful. Overall impolite,” Boldt said.
The enforcement will start Sept. 19 and go through October. However, Chapin said for the first two weeks UWPD will be handing out warnings and pamphlets to violators.
UWPD’s goal is to educate cyclists about regulations for biking in an urban area and is something the department has done for several years, he added.
Officers give out warnings and pamphlets to educate cyclists, Chapin said with the hope that violators would inform others of UWPD’s enforcement measure.
“By doing this, we are trying to make people aware of the laws through education,” he said. “We ask that when you get a citation you make contact with other people and let them know about the situation to help spread the word.”
Boldt said the cost of a citation does not fit the crime. Angie Wenninger, a UW senior, agreed and said UWPD should warn cyclists more effectively.
However, even if students receive citations there is still a way out of the heavy fee.
The citation contains times and dates of bike safety seminars, so if students attend one of the seminars, their tickets will be voided. Chapin said this means they would not have to pay the citation or attend a court date.
UWPD will be enforcing the biking crackdown by several means including specialized bicycle patrol officers, squad cars and officers standing on heavily traveled streets and areas prone to violations.
Wenninger said while she is an avid cyclist, the increased patrols would make her conscious about the rules of the road and more careful in general.
Along the same line, Boldt said she would also pay more attention.
“I don’t want a fine,” she said. “I’m a college student.”
Assistant Dean of Students John Bechtol said the enforcement would make roadways safer for everyone.
“Just as there are rules of traffic for motorists, there are rules of traffic for cyclists,” he said. “People who don’t follow the rules ruin traffic safety.”
A full listing of bicycling etiquette is available at:http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/safety/vehicle/bicycle/rules.htm.