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Daily Illini article: MTD, campus resources respond to recent cyclist collision

Posted by Sarthak Prasad on February 16, 2023

Daily Illini published an article on the recent cyclist collision with an MTD bus by Transit Plaza:

MTD, campus resources respond to recent cyclist collision A+student+races+past+on+a+bike+on+South+Wright+Street+in+one+of+the+University%E2%80%99s+many+bike+lanes.+

Sidney Malone

A student races past on a bike on South Wright Street in one of the University’s many bike lanes.

By Layli Nazarova, Staff Writer

Following the recent incident on Wright Street involving a cyclist and an MTD bus, MTD said that the bus “was operating safely” and not at fault for the collision. 

“We do not know what caused the cyclist to swerve toward the side of the bus, but we do know the bus was operating safely outside the bike lane and did not take action to cause contact,” said Amy Snyder, chief of staff at MTD, in an email. 

According to Snyder, road safety is one of the MTD’s top priorities which they achieve through training. 

“MTD maintains an extensive training program to on-board and retrain current Operators to drive safely in our busy campus environment,” Snyder said. “It involves classroom curriculum, simulated environments and on-the-street instruction.”

The overall number of bike crashes has significantly decreased over the past few years, according to the Illinois Climate Action Plan portal. That may be due to improvements in bike infrastructure on campus, according to Steven Breitwieser, a spokesperson for University Facilities & Services.

“In the last 10-15 years, the University has improved bicycle infrastructure to provide a safer, more convenient and enjoyable experience for bicyclists,” Breitwieser said. “These efforts emphasize better connecting the campus bike network with surrounding communities.”

Most of those infrastructure changes are a part of the University’s Campus Bicycle Master Plan published in 2014.

However, the accidents still occur and, according to Campus Bike Center Coordinator Jacob Benjamin, students continue to express concerns regarding road safety. 

“Most of our education really is face to face with folks that come in,” Benjamin said. “Generally, the safety concerns are related to being able to be seen well at night.”

To increase safety and spread awareness among cyclists, the Campus Bike Center provides various resources. 

“We try to educate folks more on defensive bike riding, as well as predictable bike riding,” Benjamin said. “There’s the Illinois bike safety quiz that the League of American cyclists puts out. We encourage everybody to take that. And we have a bike map that was put together and distributed by Champaign County bikes that we’ve been giving out, and this has all the safe bike routes listed on it.”

Regarding road safety concerns, Campus Bike Center recommends avoiding “busy” streets on campus, considering the increased traffic. 

“We’d certainly recommend riding on quieter side streets and less busy major streets because traffic is just a lot higher,” Benjamin said.

According to Benjamin, bike and road safety depends on both the awareness of cyclists and infrastructure on campus. 

 “Infrastructure improvements are always welcome, but awareness and education about how to ride safely is important as well,” Benjamin said. “Transportation systems are kind of an ecosystem of cars, cyclists, pedestrians, buses — all play a role in creating a safe transportation system.”