Scooting to a bad time

By John Zawawi

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Rachel Maynard/Daily Collegian

(Rachel Maynard/Daily Collegian)

I have been a student here at the University of Massachusetts for almost two months now, and I can say with a high degree of certainty that the most terrifying thing about college life isn’t midterms, lectures with the capacity size of a passenger jet, or even Sam the Minuteman’s beady Golem eyes. Rather, the one thing that I fear on a consistent basis is the various cyclists scooting around campus.

If you’ve never walked through the middle of UMass, you might think this fear is misplaced. Surely, there must be no reason to fear innocent cyclists just trying to get to class and save the environment? But my fellow pedestrians can attest that there is just cause for this apprehension. Maybe it’s the fact that they sneak up behind you, silently, until it is their righteous time to pass, when they suddenly make a full metamorphosis into Lance Armstrong on the 21st stage of the Tour de France, and no mortal man will stand in their way of a yellow jacket. Every time I think I’ve seen every possible maneuver from bicyclists, someone surprises me with a new method, whether it be the commuter who decided to use passersby as slalom obstacles, or the BMX aficionado who thought that the perfect place to master the elusive handle bar spin was underneath the bridge in Southwest Residential Area during peak dinner hours.

I haven’t even begun to discuss my near-death experiences with the longboarders, pennyboarders and hoverboarders of campus. Usually once a day I witness someone start with a longboard at the top of the hill outside of Whitmore and rumble all the way through to Southwest, picking up speed with the ferocity of a Japanese bullet train and a take-no-prisoners mentality not unlike that of a 13-year-old boy playing Call of Duty. So clearly, the only way to put an end to the chaos here is to ban anything with wheels from touching asphalt. We must stop the terrorization of pedestrians on campus by any means necessary.

Clearly, I make this proposal in jest. There really is no point in banning cyclists from the streets of campus, and besides, I’ve increased my parkour skills by jumping away from various speedsters. But maybe it might be worth it to consider painting bike lanes on the roads in campus. Designated lanes that separate those on bicycles and other wheel-based apparatuses would make for a more convenient experience for both cyclists and pedestrians alike, and would also greatly reduce the probability of the Haigis Mall looking like the streets of Pamplona during the Running of the Bulls. Bike lanes are a low cost solution to this problem. Honestly, even a couple cones with arrows would probably do the trick. Whether or not people would actually stay within the confines of the lane is another question in itself, but the important is that we should have a protocol in place to allow for student traffic to flow smoothly and without fear.

John Zawawi is a Collegian contributor and can be reached at [email protected]