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Getting Around Campus Safely

Getting around a college campus comes with its own unique challenges. On top of getting lost, you might find yourself almost running into bicyclists and skateboarders more often than you think. It can be tough to navigate through a space crowded with so many pedestrians and vehicles, so here are some tips to help you get to class safely!

Drivers A college campus can be one of the busiest places to drive around, so you’ll need to take some extra precautions. Here are some simple tips for driving around a big university:

Allow plenty of space for bicyclists. The legal minimum distance you are required to be away from a bicyclist is 3 feet. If possible and safe, try to move into the next lane if you’re in the same lane as the bicyclist.

  • Always stop before making a turn to look for pedestrians, bicyclists, etc. They could be approaching from any direction, including from behind your vehicle. Also, keep an eye out for speedy bicyclists or skateboarders rushing to cross the street.

  • Be patient at intersections. The car in front of you might not be turning yet, because there may be pedestrians ahead of them that you can’t see.

  • Pay attention to and obey the speed limit. It is usually lower around a university.

  • Drive slowly in parking lots and garages. University parking areas are extremely packed, and it’s easy to get into an accident. Be especially careful when backing out of parking spaces. It also helps to turn on your lights in dark garages.

  • Never drink and drive. If you plan to drink, always have a way to get home or a safe place to stay.

Pedestrians You’re going to do a lot of walking in college. At a large university, your classes could be up to a mile apart from each other. Here’s what you can do to make walking around campus much easier and safer:

  • Try to walk in a straight path when possible. This makes it easier for bikers, skateboarders, etc., to get a sense of where you’re going so that they can go around you. This way, you can worry less about collisions.

  • When wearing headphones, be careful not to turn up the volume too loud. You’ll want to be able to hear the sound of skateboards, bikes, and cars, especially if they’re approaching you from behind.

  • Look at where you’re going. It sounds simple, but there can be many distractions as you walk across a busy campus. Also, try to not stare at your phone screen for the entire duration of your walk.

  • Look before you turn. There could be a skateboarder about to speed past right beside you, or there could be an inattentive student walking right around the corner.

  • Take advantage of your university’s layout and cut through buildings that are on the way to your destination to avoid unwanted or harsh weather conditions, such as extreme heat or heavy rain.

Bikers A bike is a great option for transportation. It can get you relatively far, it’s eco-friendly, and it helps improve your cardiovascular system. Here are some ways to make sure you ride safely: Wear a helmet, even if you think you don’t need one. Think of it like insurance!

  • Get lights for your bike for nighttime. These are extremely helpful for everyone around you.

  • Make sure the seat height is suitable for your body. Having the optimal seat height will allow you to ride more comfortably for longer, and it can prevent injuries on your joints and connective tissue.

  • Wear bright colors so that you can be easily seen.

  • Politely and calmly warn pedestrians if they don’t seem to be aware of your presence. A quick “On your right/left!” can help them determine which direction you’re coming from.

  • Obey traffic laws when riding on the street, since a bike is considered a vehicle in most places. Try to use your arms to signal and stay in the bike lane.

  • Park your bike in a bike rack or other designated areas. Leaving it around in other places can add clutter to your campus and obstruct students’ paths, making it harder for them to get around school.

Skateboarders/Longboarders If a skateboard or longboard is your transportation mode of choice, you can utilize these tips to get around.

  • Try to avoid skating in crowded areas during busy hours. You probably won’t be able to skate more than a few feet before you run into a group of students anyway. Your college may differ, but most get crowded in the late morning and during lunch time.

  • Practice falling. When you're about to fall, crouch down so that you fall from a lower height. Also, try to roll and land on softer parts of your body.

  • Look out for cracks and bumps on the ground that may cause you to fall. This is especially important when boarding around a new, unfamiliar area.

  • Wear a helmet to prevent head injuries.

As you spend more time in college, you’ll get used to getting around campus and figure out your own tricks that work specifically for you. You might even discover some paths that are less crowded or shortcuts that can make your commute faster!

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