While the weather may not allow for pleasant afternoon bike rides just yet, it’s always good to consider the safety aspect of bicycling as we all dream of the coming spring thaw. Getting back into the swing of bicycle — and even motorcycle riding — will improve the chance of a safer and more enjoyable springtime, when it finally arrives.
As a Maryland personal injury lawyer, I know that Baltimore has provided a wellspring of bicycling culture and cycling enthusiasts. While it’s likely true that motorists in this part of the state have become more attuned to the presence of bike riders, it’s never a mistake to remind people about the dangers of cycling as it related to traffic safety.
Wearing a helmet and having a working headlight on one’s bicycle are important safety points to remember anytime a cyclist ventures onto city streets or rural country roads. Passenger car drivers and 18-wheel truckers should also be aware of the large percentage of two-wheelers that appear on the roads as the weather warms up.
As a rider, one must always be on guard and actively aware of the dangers. Even the most seemingly minor kind of bike-truck or bicycle-car accident can send a cyclist to the hospital with potentially life-threatening injuries, not the least of which are traumatic brain injury and internal injuries.
According to news articles, more bicycles are expected on Maryland roads thanks to bicycle sharing programs like that at Hood College in Frederick, MD. Called the Campus Safety Bike Program, which allows students to borrow bicycles free of charge, the school has added bike-sharing as one of many continuing efforts to be environmentally friendly.
The program, which has been in the planning stages for a while now, purchased two men’s and two women’s bikes, as well as various necessary accessories including chains, locks and lights (and optional helmets). The program provides students the opportunity to borrow one of the four cycles for up to four hours. Any student with a Hood College ID can borrow a bike at the school’s switchboard office in the Whitaker Campus Center. All bikes must be returned by 8pm.
If the program is a success with those first four bikes, the program is expected to additional cycles next semester to meet the hoped-for demand. As part of the initiative, the Hood is adding more bike racks around the campus to handle the growing number of privately-owned bicycles that students are apparently bringing to school each year.
The school discourages students from bringing automobiles to campus, unless they can demonstrate a specific need. The bike-sharing program is one way for the college to encourage a two-wheeled alternative to cars.
Hopefully Hood College will not run into the same problems experienced by Goucher College in Blatimore. Administrators at that school learned an expensive lesson from its 2008 bike-sharing program, which saw numerous cycles stolen or broken down for lack of maintenance. Cancelled not long after it started, the program apparently did not keep track of who was using the free bicycles, which unfortunately led to the bikes becoming damaged with no way to know who was responsible.
Goucher restarted its sharing program this past September. Now the school charges a $15 fee and includes a simple contract so that each bike is assigned to a specific student for the entire semester.
Hood is reportedly also working Zipcar, which has been operating two shared Zipcars on campus. That program, which has been running since August, provides automotive transportation to students, faculty, staff and residents.
Hood gets greener with new bike-sharing program, WTOP.com, December 13, 2010