Following an accident in the Infinite Corridor this fall, the issue of bicyclist and pedestrian safety has become one of the forefront concerns of the MIT Police.
At the beginning of the school year, an incident occurred in which someone exiting an office in the Infinite Corridor was struck by another person riding a razor scooter. The bruised victim filed a medical report.
Every year, the MIT Police receive complaints from people who are nearly hit by bicycles in hallways. “All it takes is someone to be hit by a bike while holding some sort of chemical,” said Sergeant Cheryl Vossmer of the MIT Police.
In 1993, MIT Police started issuing $25 fines to people riding bicycles, inline skates, skateboards, or scooters inside Institute buildings. “We ask that you just don’t do it,” said Vossmer. “Those vehicles are meant only for the outside.”
The police are also concerned with bicycle thefts. Six bicycle thefts were reported in the MIT bulletins in the past month alone. According to the MIT crime report, there were about two-hundred burglary cases in 2007.
“The number one issue of bicyclist safety is theft,” explained Vossmer. She added that cable bike-locks can be easily broken and are not theft-proof. “To securely protect a bike,” she explained, “its rear wheel and frame must be locked in place by a U-lock.”
Campus Police recommend that all students register their bicycles with MIT in order to help prevent theft. Bike registration can be completed online via the MIT Police website at http://web.mit.edu/cp/www/
The MIT Police are also working to improve bicycle safety in construction zones on campus, said Vossmer. Areas of greatest concern are the new Vassar Street parking garage, the student center safe-ride stop, and the corners of street intersections.
In order to make the campus safer for both cyclists and pedestrians, the MIT Police are working with the City of Cambridge which is also weighing in on the issue of bicycle safety. The city currently enforces several laws including the “be bright” law which requires all bikes to have a front white-light and rear red-reflector between dusk and dawn.
According to the city’s website, while only three percent of bicycle accidents occur at night, about half of all bicyclist accident deaths occur while riding at night without a bike light.
Bicycle parking is also restricted under Massachusetts Law. Bicycles are not allowed to be parked within Institute buildings, hallways, stairwells, or handicap zones, or attached to railings or fire hydrants; violators incur an initial fine of $25.
The law also restricts bicyclists from riding on certain sidewalks including those beside Massachusetts Avenue and Harvard Square. Instead, bikers are encouraged to use the bike lanes that line several major streets in Cambridge including Massachusetts Ave.