Many UT bikers are having to adjust their daily routines to get to class on time because of construction safety concerns on Speedway.
The Speedway Mall Project, which plans to turn the area into a pedestrian-friendly space, began its third and current phase in December 2016, according to an email from UT Parking and Transportation Services. This has closed parts of Speedway from Inner Campus Drive to 24th Street, causing a high density of pedestrians. To ensure safety, PTS posted signs around the construction area telling bikers to dismount and walk with their bikes.
“Construction often creates mobility challenges and we encourage people that are impacted to leave a little bit earlier than they might normally and consider alternative routes,” PTS said in an email.
Nursing sophomore Harper Paparelli lives in North Campus and bikes to her 9 a.m. class in Jester three times a week. With the construction, Paparelli said it takes about the same time to walk to class as it does to bike.
“I’ll get off of my bike, because there’s a good amount of people, and it’s just rude to keep biking or whatever, but other people will continue to bike and make people move out of the way,” Paparelli said. “I walk sometimes, so I understand that bikers are kind of annoying, but I also bike a lot of the time, and it’s annoying the other way around, so it’s just really frustrating.”
BikeUT, which is a part of PTS, has posted several tweets reminding bikers to dismount in the construction area as UT Police Department enforces the policy.
Sustainability studies sophomore Audrey Hankins said she has seen construction workers, not UTPD, enforcing the rule.
“If there is heavy machinery being moved around actively, I’ve seen (some construction workers) try to step in front of bikers to try to get them to stop so they don’t accidentally try to go around the machine or something and get hit,” Hankins said. “Sometimes they hold stop signs, and I’ll see them maybe try to persuade the people to stop on their bikes … but not aggressively telling them to stop, because they don’t have any power, ultimately, I think.”
Project Management and Construction Services said in an email the construction on Speedway will last until spring 2018.