had to happen sooner or later. Finally, my turn came, and I was
"biked" around 12:30 PM on October 4 as I was walking
west on the sidewalk along Walnut Street. Approaching the corner
at 34th Street, I made the error of turning to cross Walnut, at
which point a young woman crashed into me from behind. At least,
according to the cyclist it was my error. As I turned to confront
the offender, she denounced me for changing direction. That is right!
I was in the wrong, because I had turned to cross the street at
the corner. (And I thought pedestrians were supposed to cross streets
at the corners!)
apology whatsoever was offered! When I pointed out that, lacking
rear view eyes, I had no way of knowing that a cyclist was approaching
from behind and about to pass me, the cyclist became even more truculent
and adamant in her insistence that I had caused the collision. She
was convinced that the campus sidewalks belonged to cyclists and
that pedestrians were nothing more than an annoying nuisance
was fortunate; no injury resulted. Since I was wearing dark slacks,
the tire marks left when my right leg was rammed did not even leave
visible stains. But, one of these days, grievous injuries--ghastly
fractures, concussions, and perhaps even death--could lie in store
for Penn pedestrians as we are forced to cope with an ever more
aggressive and irresponsible swarm of cyclists. Increasingly, the
latter careen around at high speeds on campus walkways, zooming
dangerously close to pedestrians, near misses being the norm.
does need to address this mounting threat to public safety before
a disastrous accident belatedly puts this issue on the front burner.
At a minimum, a campaign should be launched to raise awareness that
campus walkways are designed for pedestrians and that pedestrians
have the right of way on our sidewalks
Associate Professor of Legal Studies
University does have a Bicycle Policy that is actively enforced
by officers of the Penn Police Department. The policy prohibits
the operation of bicycles on Locust, Smith, and Hamilton Walks between
the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Police officers on foot and on bicycles are aware of and share the
safety concerns that pedestrians have relative to unsafe operation
of bicycles on campus walkways. Officers are detailed to campus
walkways every day to enforce appropriate ordinances. Through visible,
proactive patrol, our officers will make the walkways of our campus
safer for all members of our community.
a member of the community should observe a bicycle operating in
a manner inconsistent with University policy, I encourage you to
bring the situation to the attention of the Penn Police by reporting
this activity to the department. Walk to the nearest Blue Light
emergency phone and report the activity to our Communications Center.
An officer will be dispatched and the situation will be managed
appropriate to the offense.
A. Rambo, Chief of Police
Out welcomes reader contributions. Short, timely letters on
University issues will 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. 49, No. 8, October 15, 2002