Graduate student Mitzy Colletes was biking her usual route down Third Street on Tuesday afternoon when a car turned in front of her.
It pulled into the bike lane and stopped, forcing Colletes to brake quickly. Her bike flipped, and instead of checking to see if Colletes was harmed, the car then left the scene.
The accident left Colletes with a broken jaw, split chin and missing teeth.
Though not all bikers will suffer such serious injuries on campus, cyclists are often forced to bike in situations where drivers and pedestrians are unwelcoming.
Still, many students choose to bike in and around campus.
Freshman Forrest Gatrell said he cut his daily travel time in half after he decided to purchase a bike when he started his off-campus job.
Gatrell, like many other students, chooses to ride his bike to places like classes, friends’ houses and his off-campus job instead of walking. While bike riding on a crowded campus comes with issues, he said he loves the experience.
“It’s made life a lot better,” Gatrell said. “I get places exponentially quicker. I can get across town in like 15 minutes.”
Right after he got his bike, Gatrell said his friend and fellow biker informed him that he must register his bike with IU Parking Operations. He took a trip to the Atwater parking garage to fill out the necessary forms.
Amanda Turnipseed, director of IU Parking Operations, said students must know the make and color of their bike as well as the serial number in order to register it. Students must also pay a one-time fee of $10.
She said registering a bike allows IU Parking Operations to notify the owner when their bike has been found or impounded or if the bike needs to be moved. Having bikes registered was useful when IU Parking Operations had to move the bike parking area by the School of Public and Environmental Affairs from Tenth Street to the opposite side of the building.
“We were able to only notify the owners of bikes that had a permit on it to advise them that their bike would be moved by a certain date and where they would find it,” Turnipseed said.
Once he arrives at his destination, Gatrell said he parks his bike on one of these bike parking racks located around Bloomington. He can usually find a spot, but sometimes at buildings like SPEA, he cannot find a space.
“I usually park it on a handrail,” Gatrell said. “I know I risk getting a ticket if I do that.”
Any bikes parked somewhere other than a bike rack can be impounded by IU Parking Operations, Turnipseed said. Once the bike is released to the owner, a citation is issued.
She said impounded bikes are held for a maximum of 90 days. If the owner has not retrieved the bike after 90 days, the bike will be moved to an IU Surplus store to be sold.
Another problem Gatrell has on campus is deciding what routes to take. He said he feels as if drivers don’t want to share the road with bikers. On occasion, he has even been yelled at and called names by drivers passing by.
Colletes, who is still suffering from her injuries, said she thinks drivers need to be more considerate of bikers.
“People have to be a lot more aware,” Colletes said. “It would have been really easy for him to turn right without turning into my lane. He didn’t signal at all, so I didn’t know he was turning right until it was too late.”
She said she has never had problems to the extent of her accident with cars before, but said she has encountered many disrespectful drivers.
“People will ride up really close next to you or tailgate you, as if you had any option to move quicker,” Colletes said.
While bikers should stay in the road, Gatrell said he finds himself taking paths and sidewalks throughout campus. One of the toughest spots to bike through is around the arboretum, he said.
“I make sure to go really slow,” Gatrell said. “I have my hands on my brakes at all times.”
Even though he is cautious, Gatrell said he has been in about three accidents near the arboretum. One time, he and another biker both tried to avoid crashing into a pedestrian and ended up crashing into each other.
“We all get our cuts and scrapes,” Gatrell said. “I get knocked down, but I get up again.”
Gatrell said he believes a lot of pedestrians aren’t very conscious of bikers around campus. They often walk around with headphones in and don’t look for bikers when crossing the street. Most of his accidents have been from trying not to bump into pedestrians, he said.
With more practice, he said he is better at avoiding people and accidents. He doesn’t let these scary situations deter him from biking around Bloomington.
“Honestly, the best thing I’ve gotten since I came to Bloomington is my bike,” Gatrell said.