Get the $%@# Out of the Way: A Frosh Guide to Pedestrian Culture on the Farm

Posted by at 7:32PM


I’ve found myself grunting this phrase far too often during these first two weeks of school, and I know why.

Frosh. On. Bikes.

When you live on the Upper Row, Manz or out in the boondocks and leave yourself five minutes to bike to class, the last thing you want is a run in with an inexperienced bicyclist trying to text and bike for the first time. This can get real messy, real fast.

Navigating the intense bikeways at Stanford requires a certain level of expertise only acquired after a solid quarter of commuting. To help facilitate this learning process and alleviate collective road-rage, I’ve compiled the following tips to help all you froshies survive the rest of your Stanford career (relatively) unscathed.

1) Ride on the Right: If you travel on wheels, keep to the right. There is a divider line for a reason, and it should not be crossed. Also, keep to the RIGHT of bollards (the metal/wooden poles that stick out of the ground and prevent cars from getting through). But if you walk around campus, keep on the LEFT so you can easily dodge traffic and nobody has to swerve around you. Also, GO AROUND TRAFFIC CIRCLES COUNTER CLOCKWISE. The extra .5 seconds that it takes you to go around the proper way will save everyone a lot of frustration and potential injury.

2) Signal for Safety: As nerdy as they may seem, using bike signals is an excellent way to avoid rider catastrophe. Signal your turns by lifting your hand on the side to which you are turning. Add some John Travolta swag to feel extra cool.

3) Ring that Thing: Use your bike bell! It just isn’t that rude. When you’re entering a major bikeway from a blind corner, give a quick ding-a-ling. Ring that thing when foreign tourists walk in rows of 5 on the wrong side of the bikeway and you can’t slow down any more or you’ll fall off.

4) All Hands on Deck: Multitasking on a bike is a high level skill that should only be exercised by true biking savants. I’ve seen it all: biking while texting, reading the Daily, fixing makeup with a compact, eating cereal, even brushing one’s teeth. But these are ADVANCED techniques that should not be tested by amateurs. Practice your multitasking and hands free biking on your own time and not while biking around the Quad during rush hour when I’m hurrying to lunch.

5) SWERVE, Don’t Slow: The easiest way to spot frosh bikers is to watch them deal with collision. New riders, when confronted with an oncoming accident, slow down instead of swerving or just stopping. This simply delays the imminent crash instead of avoiding it. DO NOT SLOW DOWN. It makes no sense. On that note, the Marguerite WILL NOT HIT YOU. If she comes up behind you in front of the Quad, keep doing your thang. Don’t swerve and mess with oncoming traffic.

6) Practice Makes Perfect: Biking around Stanford takes a lot of getting used to, and it definitely gets easier over time. If you’re a new biker who still gets the jitters when you’re about bike through bollards or by tablers in White Plaza, get some practice! Bike around the Wilbur parking lot or practice your daily routes over the weekend. Avoid dense traffic locations such as the Circle of Death, Engineering Quad, White Plaza and Arrillaga Dining during popular passing times around 9:50 AM, 10:50 AM , 12:00 PM and 1:05 PM.

You stay safe, Stanford. 


2 Responses to “Get the $%@# Out of the Way: A Frosh Guide to Pedestrian Culture on the Farm”

  1. Tony says:

    I don’t agree with #5 completely. It all depends on the situation. When I go down the ramps before the southwest corner of the Main Quad, I am usually going pretty fast, but if I see opposing traffic when I get to the hilly area, I slow down because there is no way to tell whether whether they are continuing towards the ramps or turning left onto Escondido Mall.

    In particular, if crashing is imminent and your speed is not super-fast, do not swerve. Apply your brakes to the max (but easy on your front brake if going downhill) and aim to crash head-on with the other cyclist. Yes, you read that right. The rationale is that your front tires will touch, immediately stopping both of you, and if you’re going slow enough, you won’t flip over. If you try to swerve, your legs could collide, causing both of you to fall or at least scrape your leg.

    Swerving only makes sense when you can with high probability predict the entire motion of the other cyclist in the next three seconds. For example, if you and an opposing cyclist are both riding too far left, and there is no ambiguity as to where either of you are going (i.e. straight; no turns in the vicinity). Then just swerve right and avoid each other.

    Another tip: Keep away from skateboarders! They cannot usually do hand signals and may turn on you randomly. If you’re on a very wide street, overtake them only after giving yourself a lot of side clearance. If the street is less wide, follow them from at least 50 feet away. Don’t try to overtake them; that is very dangerous because they could turn without even expecting that you could possibly be on their side.

  2. Alfredo says:

    A corollary to #5: When rushing head-on into a biker and trying to swerve out of the way DO NOT look right at the biker. Look at where you want to go. The other person will see where you’re committed to going and get out of that way. Crash avoided.

    The worst is when you’re both looking at each other and out-juking each other to the point where you smack into each others’ front tires.


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