Oregon State University freshman Oscar Gayet still is getting to know the campus, but the 19-year-old makes sure to use lights and reflectors any time he hits the streets.
“It’s a huge difference having lights and reflectors on my bike,” Gayet said. “I feel pretty safe, but you never know.”
Gayet joined more than 200 other students who attended OSU’s annual “Be Bright! Be Seen!” bicycle safety event Wednesday at the Memorial Union quad. OSU representatives hosted several safety-oriented booths at the quad to encourage students who bike to and from campus to be as visible as possible during their commute by providing bike lights and reflectors.
Gayet said he usually feels safe on campus, but he noted that some roads and intersections can be very dangerous.
“In some spots it’s really nice but in others it’s really horrible,” Gayet said. “Some roads are really worn down on campus so you have to be careful everywhere.”
After working as an Oregon State University Public Safety officer for more than eight years, Steve Beaudoin has seen OSU's student population grow from 19,362 in 2006 to more than 24,000 this fall. Beaudoin helped students to register their bicycles during Wednesday’s event, but he is concerned that the increased traffic will mean increased risk for cyclists.
Beaudoin noted that although there are more students now than when he started eight years ago, the roads aren't any wider.
“It’s kind of scary, and we do have a lot of accidents," he said. "There’s a lot more people so you have to be a lot more careful. As much as you can put on your body and bike, the better off you’re going to be.”
Brandon Trelstad, sustainability coordinator for OSU, said there are programs in place aimed at clearing up traffic congestion on campus. Trelstad said he encourages students to ride the bus system and to explore alternative transportation.
“We’re looking at the human element of sustainability and making sure people are safe and visible. Even if we have the infrastructure to support bicycling, if people don’t feel like they’re safe and visible, they’re not going to use that mode,” Trelstad said. “Cars take up a ton more space than bikes, and we’re trying to promote a dense and walkable campus that doesn’t necessarily have huge parking lots everywhere. And there are a ton of options that are easier than people think.”
The Be Bright! Be Seen! public safety campaign was sponsored by University Relations and Marketing, Healthy Campus Initiatives, Corvallis Community Relations, University Housing and Dining Services, the City of Corvallis Transportation Options Program, OSU Transportation Services and the OSU Sustainability Office. Partners for the program included Peer Health Advocates, OSU Department of Public Safety, the Alternative Transportation Advisory Committee and ASOSU Safe Ride.
More information is available about the program at http://poweredbyorange.com/special-issues/be-bright/.