As the days get shorter and the temperatures cool off, students do what they can to soak up those last few rays of sun before the winter months. I decided to purchase a bike to take advantage of the mild fall weather.
I grew up in the country outside a small town so I never rode my bike other than just for fun. I quickly discovered there is a lot more to urban cycling than I imagined. Obeying the traffic rules, watching out for motor vehicles and pedestrians, finding non-busy streets to get you where you need to go, and locking your bike once you get there are all a part of using a bike for transportation. This was all foreign to me. So I talked to my friend Jimmie Willis, youth ministry senior and avid biker, to get some safety tips and suggestions for riding around the city.
“Pedestrians are the most at risk of being hit, so make sure to be aware of your surroundings,” Willis said. “If a sidewalk is full of people, go down a different one.”
When it comes to keeping your bike safe, a solid metal U-lock is the most secure. Always lock your bike to something solid that is anchored to the ground. On campus you must use one of the bike racks.
“Bicycles parked other than in bicycle racks may be issued a parking citation and are subject to impoundment,” according to the OCU student handbook.
Unfortunately there aren’t many bike racks on campus, so parking your bike can be a challenge. Willis said he suggests bringing your bike inside where you can see it if you can.
OCU could make the campus more bike-friendly by installing bike tools and air pumps in some of the parking lots, Willis said.
Willis said he sees biking as a lifestyle. He uses his bike to commute and to explore the city.
Willis also said his favorite place to explore on his bike is downtown and the different districts between OCU and downtown. The Paseo east of campus on N.W. 30th Street and The Plaza District south of campus on N.W. 16th Street and Blackwelder are two areas close to campus that make for a pleasant ride.
“I would encourage people to bike because that way you can fall in love with it, the versatility, the freedom. I don’t want people to feel scared or intimidated by it,” Willis said.
While I’m not ready to give up my car just yet, I already see the appeal of a biking lifestyle. I can use my bike for shorter trips and to get away from OCU for awhile. I can go downtown and not worry about parking and get a workout in the process.