VCU Police officer promotes new campus bike policy

VCU Police officer Matthew Ruland proposed a new bike policy that would restrict bicycle use in busy parts of campus, like Shafer Court.

Amir Vera
Contributing Writer

VCU Police officer Matthew Ruland proposed a new bike policy that would restrict bicycle use in busy parts of campus, like Shafer Court.

Residents know that Richmond’s roads aren’t the safest, and residents who venture onto the VCU campus have probably also noticed how unsafe even sidewalks can become with the flood of students and bicyclists.

Pedestrians on campus might be able to avoid bicycle traffic on the sidewalks in some parts of VCU because of a revised bicycle policy.

VCU Police officer Matthew Ruland has reconstructed a 10-year-old bicycle policy that will change how some of the busier sections of campus conduct traffic, specifically in regards to bike use.

The main difference in the revised policy looks to make Shafer Court (the stretch of sidewalk between Franklin Street and Floyd Avenue) and Linden Court (the stretch of sidewalk from Cary Street to Floyd Avenue) a “pedestrian way.”

People will still be able to bring a bicycle through those areas, but they will have to dismount them and roll them as they walk through the proposed pedestrian ways.

“It’s the heart of the Monroe Park campus,” Ruland said. “Between classes there are tons of pedestrians, and it really doesn’t make sense to try and navigate your bike through a crowd like that, but people do it.”

Another part of the initiative includes a change in officers’ process of referring people, pedestrians and bicyclists.

Ruland said there are no such things as the rumored “jaywalking tickets,” but VCU police can refer students, faculty and staff to Judicial Affairs, where student misconduct is handled. Officers typically refer pedestrians who ignore traffic officers who, according to the law, replace traffic lights when present at an intersection.

The cutting of bicycle locks on campus property is also a part of the new policy Ruland is promoting. Ruland said if a bicycle is chained to a trashcan, handicapped ramp or private facility, the facility management has the authority to cut the lock off the bicycle and turn it in to the proper authorities.

“In theory, they can do that already, but now it will be well-written and well-articlulated in the new policy so it’s beyond the shadow of a doubt what we can and cannot do,” Ruland said.

Ruland also said if the policy becomes official, more signs would go up instructing riders when and when not to be on their bikes as well as where they can lock up their bikes.

“We won’t be out writing people up and throwing them in jail, but we’ll be out there periodically just checking it. We’ll try to get the message out there,” Ruland said.

According to Ruland, it is very likely that the changes to the bicycle initiative will be passed within the next year. Making changes to a policy must go through a panel of people, which then critiques the policy before it is approved.

In addition to safety, Ruland’s main goal is the education.

“We’ll try to get the message out there. The more you do that, the more you educate people, the more it becomes habit for people,” Rualnd said. “And that’s the thing, just changing the habit of people and making them more conscientious about pedestrians and … when a motor vehicle is on the street too.”


Photo by Chris Conway

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