Campus construction presents bike commuters with obstacles

By Jason Kotoch

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Rachel Maynard/Daily Collegian

Construction on the University of Massachusetts campus has made traveling to class challenging for bikers and pedestrians alike.

One of the areas of construction is near the library. Victoria Johnson, an undergraduate animal science major rides her bike to and from class every day but has to demount and walk through the dirt and gravel patch near the library.

“My fear is of hitting a pedestrian,” she said.

Johnson went on to say that appropriated bike lanes around campus might resolve the safety issue.

Other bike commuters on campus echoed the same idea.

Nina Hazelton, a junior majoring in social thought and political economy, rides a mile and a half to and from campus everyday as she commutes from downtown.

She suggested that clearly marked bike lanes might reduce congestion, especially around the library.

Hazelton recalled how during her freshmen year, the bike lanes that ran between Herter Hall and the library actually helped organize traffic.

Others on campus, fearing accidents, avoid the construction altogether. Such is the case with sophomore biology major, Olivia Bernard.

Bernard, who helps with the UMass Bike Share Program, walks a longer route to and from class just to avoid the heavy traffic.

The program helps anyone with a UCard get on a bike.

Qualified UMass students, faculty and staff can sign up for a free bike rental in room 420 of the Student Union.

The day-rental bike service is a popular one, according to Bernard.

“We’re actually on a waiting list,” he said.

Despite the construction related traffic, some still choose to bike and actually enjoy it.

Graduate student Casey Clapp, an arboriculture and forestry major, rides everywhere because he enjoys it. But he acknowledged that it could get dangerous.

He recalled getting hit by a car on North Pleasant Street during his undergraduate years when a woman hit him with her car after cutting him off. The impact sent him flying onto the hood of her car and then to the hospital.

The UMass Bike Co-Op is a full service bike shop in the Student Union that can fix a flat or order a special part.

The co-op, a worker-owned bike shop, operates on a very small budget. Repairs are reasonably priced and the employees work more for the love of bikes than a big paycheck.

Andrew McNulty, an undergraduate environmental design major works in the shop almost every day of the week.

He said that the dust and crushed stones that litter the construction area surrounding the library wreak havoc on the moving parts of a bicycle.

“Any sort of dust or crushed stone is terrible for bearing surfaces,” he said.

So with campus construction in full swing, bike commuters may need to hit the brakes for a little while longer.

Jason Kotoch can be reached at [email protected]