October 16, 2019

Purdue safety officials take measures to help pedestrians, alternative transportation users around campus co-exist

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — There are three things that Purdue University safety officials want those using alternative forms of transportation to know: Sidewalks are for pedestrians, respect others around you, and obey the laws.

“We’ve done educational and enforcement blitzes, but more and more alternative modes of transportation have continued to pop up. That makes it very congested,” Purdue police chief John Cox said. “If we can get people thinking about those three things in general, it will make it safer for everyone.”

Walking, bicycling — and to a lesser degree — skateboarding have traditionally been the main modes of getting around campus. However, in recent years, electric skateboards, scooters and other motor powered devices have joined the mix. Electric skateboards can get up to nearly 25 mph – and have even been seen passing motor vehicles.

Moreover, people navigating campus on bikes and electric devices are entering crowded areas at higher speeds, where people are generally walking 2-4 mph.

“We receive complaints each week about near-misses and the speeds at which people are riding,” Cox said.

Purdue fire chief Kevin Ply said, “We’ve seen incidents involving bikes, scooters and skateboards.”

Purdue safety officials are being proactive in combating the issues. For Spin electric scooters, GeoFenced areas have been activated and are visible through the app. Spin scooters will automatically slow down to 5 mph or come to a stop when located inside one of the boundaries. The 5 mph zone is located on the main north campus perimeter area between Northwestern and Stadium avenues and University, State and Grant streets.

Cox said police will use members of Purdue Student Security Patrol to help monitor congested areas where accidents and injuries are more likely to occur. And while the educational efforts continue, the chief said, another enforcement blitz will take place if necessary.

“Sidewalks are for pedestrians, and bike paths, and roadways are for other forms of transportation,” Cox said. “We want people to follow that general rule. If you are at a place where there are no bike paths or where one has ended, move to the street and  follow all rules of the road and traffic signage.”

 A summary of rules for bicycles and electric or motor powered vehicles (EMPVs) is included below, and complete details are listed in Purdue’s Traffic and Parking Regulations.

  • Operate these modes of transportation only on streets or bicycle/shared-use paths. In some areas of campus with increased pedestrian traffic, devices must be dismounted and “walked” where posted.
  • Yield to pedestrians.
  • Obey stop signs and traffic signals.
  • Use hand signals to alert others of the intent to turn or stop.
  • Obey speed limits. Unless posted otherwise, the speed limit on campus streets is 20 mph.
  • Follow the direction of traffic.
  • Use a mounted white light on the front of the device at dawn, dusk or night.
  • As is the case with motor vehicles, operating an electric scooter or other EMPV under the influence of alcohol is prohibited throughout West Lafayette, including Purdue’s campus.

 “We know that electric modes of transportation are becoming increasingly popular, and we’re working to ensure a safe transit environment for everyone,” said Ben Dispennett, director of Parking and Transportation Services. “But in order to do that, bicycle and EMPV riders must take responsibility for building that culture. In pedestrian areas, slow down or dismount from the device and walk. Riders need to stay on the designated paths and keep safety for all in mind.”

If not, Cox has a message: “We will ticket violators if we need to.” 

Writer: Jim Bush, 765-494-2077, jsbush@purdue.edu 

Sources: John Cox, 765-494-8221, jkcox@purdue.edu

Kevin Ply, 765-494-6919, kmply@purdue.edu

Ben Dispennett, 765-494-1425 bdispen@purdue.edu 

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