Ball State bikers wary of weather, obstacles

Weaving through pedestrians and dodging cars in the street are two ever-present dangers for campus bikers, and the snow and ice only add to their worries.

However, students and staff could have a hand in possible conversations next spring with Facilities Planning and Management about creating a bike lanes around campus, Vera Adams, urban planning professor, said.

Adams serves on the Committee on Sustainability, a group of students and professors from the College of Architecture and Planning, which sent a survey Thursday through the Communication Center e-mail.

Adams said she's already received about 600 responses, and the survey will remain open until early January. The survey was created through, a company that can analyze the data as soon as the survey ends. Adams said she plans to share the findings with the Committee on Sustainability and Facilities Planning and Management.

She's a proponent of biking around campus, but after hitting a bump in the road that sent her flying through the air toward a bus stop kiosk two years ago, she no longer rides.

There are other stories of wrecks, collisions, slips and falls that have happened all over campus, and creating a bike path could be a solution.

"It wouldn't cost you any more than it does for putting in sidewalks," Adams said.

Nathan Russell, a freshman architecture student, came up with the survey, which was originally part of a class project.

"Being greener is something that everybody needs to be thinking about," Russell said.

A biker himself, Russell said his biggest concern is the limited amount of bike racks around campus, especially around the CAP building. He said it's always crowded around the bike rack, but he usually found a way to squeeze his in.

"There was one time where my bike lock got jammed," he said. "I took my tire off and walked around with it all day.

"Nobody stole my bike," he said with a smile.


Creating bike paths around campus isn't a new concept for the Facilities Planning and Management staff. But it's something they've never pursued because there hasn't been enough funding, Kevin Kenyon, vice president of the department, said.

He said he's been working with city council members to create recreational paths and walkways to connect campus with various neighborhoods around campus, and create paths down to White River boulevard.

"We put it in our master plan to support what they want to do," he said. "The city's been adding curb cuts, and that seems to work well."

Biking in snow and ice creates some problems because street tires don't have as much traction as all-terrain bikes. To help curb the danger of biking during wintertime, and to protect the safety of pedestrians, campus outdoor crews use rotary brooms to sweep the sidewalks in the early morning and throughout the day.

Kenyon said the brooms work best in conditions of dry, fluffy snow. For anything more than three inches, they have to resort to snow plows, he said.

"We hear that eskimos have several words for ‘snow,' and I don't know if I agree with that," he said. "But there are lots of types of snow we're dealing with."

The City of Muncie is primarily responsible for cleaning the streets and laying road salt. But Kenyon said facilities staff lend a hand when the snow gets heavy.


Local bike shop owners warn regular street tires don't provide enough traction in the snow and ice. Jason Allardt, owner of Kirk's Bike Shop on South Walnut Street, suggests students give themselves plenty of time to get where they're going.

"You need the right equipment, the right tires and the right mindset," he said.

To keep a bike in good condition during the winter, Allardt suggests cleaning off any road salt and rust from the frame fo the bike and putting a tarp over it, or keeping it inside.

Ken Hardin, owner of Hardin's Bicycle Shop, also located on South Walnut Street, suggests investing in a couple of accessories for safe riding in the winter: silicon lube for the moving cables, padded winter cycling gloves and new all-weather tires.

"Slow down, make sure you wear a helmet, overdress and wear breathable cycling winter clothes," he said.


Sophmore Chris Lohss is among those bikers who still pedal to class during the winter.

"I only walk if it's icy out," he said. "I hate it, because I have to wake up 20 minutes earlier to walk to class."

Others students he knows packed up their bikes and took them home for Thanksgiving.

"I don't see why," he said. "I just get bundled up. I have that big rabbit hat that keeps me warm."

Damage from the winter weather isn't a concern. Lohss lives in Kinghorn Hall where the bike rack is covered by an enclosed walkway.

He said he's glad there's surveillance around the bike rack at his residence hall.

"I thought my bike was stolen one time," he said. "Then I realized I had walked back from lunch, and I left it there at the rack. I picked it up a couple days later."

Lohss usually rides on the sidewalks, but pedestrians can be unpredictable, he said.

"Cars don't have room to pass you if you ride on the road. People get mad at you either way."


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