By Dana Treadwell
Davis. Really? You are the bicycling campus capital of California. You proudly advertise your Platinum Bicycle Friendly University rating, a much-deserved honor:
“One of two UC schools in the top 10, University of California, Davis is an incredible place to be if you’re a bike-loving student. Although Stanford took top honors, UC’s numbers blow them out of the water: 45% of UCD’s students, faculty, and staff have a bike on campus each day, compared to Stanford’s 21%. UC Davis encourages these numbers by providing a staggering amount of resources for bicyclists: services include bike classes, DIY bike repair and maintenance, summer bike storage, commuter showers and lockers, and even maps and directions created just for campus bikers. But Davis isn’t just providing practical bike love; they’ve embraced the history and art of biking as well with the Pierce Miller Bicycle Collection, an exhibit of vintage bicycles that is the core of what will eventually become a major bicycle museum. Off campus, the city of Davis, Calif., is recognized as one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world, with more than 100 miles of bike lanes and paths, designated lanes and signals, and local bike maps.”
You also enjoy status as a world-class academic university. So, why have you not taken up the task of inspiring your students to wear helmets? Head injury is the main cause of death and severe disability in bicycle-related injuries. Many states, California among them, have passed laws requiring children to wear helmets until the age of 18. As a result, most of the young adults that we hand you are trained to wear helmets when riding bicycles. You can build on this to help protect their brains and lives while they inhabit your realm.
The promise-to-wear-it free helmet program is a great start. Unfortunately, as you can see any day on campus, it only increases the safety of a few students. Unofficial numbers report 250-300 students taking advantage of this program in 2018.
Make it an interdisciplinary endeavor to produce a cool, eco-friendly, customizable, trendy, whatever-it-takes helmet product and program. Material science, environmental science, design, physics, business, marketing, psychology – every department that wants to contribute can help in the cause to save dreams and lives.
Employ whatever tactics necessary to prevent these tragedies from continuing. Interview past students whose college and life dreams were cut short due to preventable brain trauma suffered in a UCD biking accident. Let the parents of a student who died due to preventable injuries inflicted in a biking accident on campus tell their story of grief. These people would likely find solace in helping to prevent similar loss to others. Perhaps include stories of incidents where helmets prevented serious injury. Show animated videos of unprotected brains riding bikes and what can happen to them in a fall or collision. With UCD’s superb campus-wide resources, creativity and expertise, preventing bicycling tragedies would be a beautiful effort to behold and, ultimately, a supremely rewarding accomplishment. What better all-hands-on-deck endeavor to undertake than to save lives?
UCD’s Platinum Bicycle Friendly University status is up for review in 2021, I believe.
Rise to this challenge.
Save lives, hopes and brains.
You got this.
Bike & Brain Fan