The other day I was walking down Orange Mall on my way to the Memorial Union for coffee. It was a peculiarly rainy day in Tempe.
Various sorority factions had evacuated their usual encampments outside of the Memorial Union. The student population walked around with haste, their heads held low, for the showers of nature were upon them. While walking, I saw a cyclist riding his bike in the opposite direction, almost at the outskirts of the walk-only zone in a relatively unpopulated area.
Then, from the brush, a man clad in a yellow shirt reading “walk-only zone” hopped onto the road, stuck his arm up and hand out in a “halt” position and ordered the cyclist to dismount from his bike.
The cyclist shrugged and rode on.
The walk-only zone enforcer was left with both arms in the air and frustration on his face.
Circumstances like this are a great representation of what the walk-only zone is starting to do and will continue to do in the future as its sphere of influence spreads around campus.
As most already know, ASU implemented a walk-only zone at the beginning of the semester. This program essentially prevents any motorized or wheeled transport in certain parts of campus.
The policy kicked off the year with a phase one enforcement around Hayden Library and the Memorial Union.
The efforts of the policy are to make traversing campus safer for pedestrians and others in certain high-traffic areas of campus.
But does it really?
I ride a bike to and around school. I’ve had close calls, but never any issues with actually hitting someone.
This is not always the case. Crashes happen. Some accidents can even be vicious, but I would go as far to say that more often than not, it is the obliviousness of pedestrians, too focused on their cell phones, who contribute to the calamity.
While the walk-only zone policy itself can be dragged into question and debated strongly on both sides, I think the real issue with the policy is the entirely unrealistic idea that these zones will sustain themselves.
It seems that cyclists can break these rules with little to no repercussions — and this is only phase one.
We are a few weeks into the school year and already there has been an increasing lack of regard for this policy. Most riders are still complacent, though unhappy, about having to dismount and walk.
What happens when phases two and three are implemented and the walk-only zones are extended to more regions of campus? Will the acquiescence continue? I doubt it.
This policy will most likely become one of those “pseudo-policies” invented to champion the rights of the pedestrian, which have little to no effect on anyone’s actual behavior.
Tell Zane about how you stood up to the walk-only ‘Man’ at email@example.com or follow him at @humanzane.