New policies for pedestrian plaza

Currently in its planning stages, Mines Public Safety is pushing a campaign to limit bike and skateboard traffic in the newly constructed Maple Plaza outside of the Brown Building and the student center. The goal is to improve the overall safety found on campus.

This plan has been promoted as a result of several instances where cyclists and skateboarders have collided or nearly collided with pedestrians. Because of the newness of the plaza, especially outside of the student center, Public Safety is still working out the details of how best to regulate the traffic.

Considered the “core” of the campus by Chief of Police George Hughes, this area requires extra attention.

The current form of the proposed plan would affect those who ride bikes, skateboards, and scooters the most. The initiative states that “dismount zones” would be set up around the pedestrian plaza. These zones would be indicated by graphics placed near the plaza boundaries and would require all riders to stop travelling on their vehicles.

To develop the pedestrian plaza, Mines purchased 16th street between Maple and Illinois and made it a “no vehicle” zone. An extension of this rule would prevent bikes, skateboards, and scooters from passing through as well. “We don’t want vehicles up there, and bikes are vehicles,” explained Hughes.

Skateboards are not allowed to be ridden in the pedestrian plaza under the current plan. Officer Hughes wishes to let skateboard riders know that they are not being singled out because of the large number of restrictions that are already placed on them. “Most laws on skateboard riders are placed on them by the state of Colorado,” said Hughes, “We cannot supersede their jurisdiction on campus.”

Hughes is currently working with Director of Student Activities Marie Hornickel and Director of Facilities Gary Bowersock to develop the best plan possible for traffic throughout the plaza.

The student body will be included in the planning process as much as possible. Hughes understands that, “It is a difficult and an unpopular decision. We are getting as much input and information from students as possible before we put any policies in place.”

Although Mines has an avid biking community, and the measure would probably fail if put to a vote among the students, Hughes stated that, “Sometimes policies need to be made out of necessity, necessity being safety in this instance, rather than popularity.” He wishes to promote the pedestrian plaza as a place for students to congregate rather than a place to ride a bike.

Hughes did mention mention that more bike racks are on their way, and as soon as the loading bay outside of Berthoud is cleared, bike racks will be installed there and in other places on campus. While still promoting safety for pedestrians, Public Safety and Mines wish to encourage, rather than discourage, the strong biking community that resides at the campus.

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