As Badgers return to Madison, many students are learning and relearning the public transit systems available in the city. In particular, many rely on buses and bikes to get around.
As students attempt to conquer the new bus systems and understand bike lanes in University Avenue, keep in mind some of these dos and don’ts of Madison’s public transportation modes.
Do use the bike lanes.
Bikers should learn and follow the rules of the road as detailed in this City of Madison guide. You know the basics — always ride with traffic, obey traffic signs and lights and signal your turns.
Even though they may be confusing to some, the bike lanes are here to serve you. It might be frightening to ride alongside buses in the road, but the lanes are designed to help bikers move efficiently and safely across campus.
A couple things can help bike riders feel more comfortable with sharing the road with vehicles: Wear a properly fitting helmet, and use lights when riding after dark (it’s the law). This means a white front light and a red reflector, although you can use flashing red lights as well.
Sharing the sidewalk with much slower moving foot traffic is another story.
Use sidewalks with caution
If you ride your bike on the sidewalk, you may find yourself weaving through the masses of students walking across campus between classes — which will inevitably slow you down.
There may be times where you may need or want to ride on the sidewalk (for example – on a road without a bike lane and lots of fast-moving traffic). If you do ride on the sidewalk, slow way down and watch for pedestrians, vehicles turning in and out of driveways, car doors opening, and other hazards. A guide from the City of Madison explains when riding on the sidewalk is allowed and how to do it safely.
To repeat, slow way down. Imagine the experience from the perspective of someone on foot if you go too fast. They’re walking on the sidewalk when all of a sudden, two wheels and a tangle of metal fly by, splitting between them and classmates without warning.
On buses, do move back.
The Madison Metro Transit, serving thousands of commuters over 72 square miles, is a reliable way to get across campus in just a few minutes. However, it’s not always smooth sailing — or driving — when bus etiquette is lacking.
Every Metro driver’s favorite phrase is ‘Move back!’ Everyone should be aware the reason drivers tell people to ‘move back’ is so more passengers can get on board. Not only is it helpful to keep the front of the bus clear for the driver to safely operate the vehicle, but it’s also a matter of respect for your fellow passengers, no matter how short or long your bus journey may be.
Filling the back of the bus first allows people to find seats quicker and easier and create space throughout the bus. No one wants a sweaty, cramped bus ride to class. And, most importantly, moving back keeps the doorways clear.
Speaking of clearing the doorways…
Don’t always get on first.
The doorways are undoubtedly narrow. You will not be able to fit through said narrow doorway when someone else is attempting to go the opposite direction through the same narrow doorway. Therefore, having respectful door etiquette includes one person at a time through the door.
How do you know when to go, though? The general rule is to let those disembarking pass through the doorway first, then board the bus after everyone getting off the bus has cleared the doorway. Plus, don’t forget to move back once you’re on.
As for when you’re disembarking the bus, use the rear door whenever possible.
Have a safe commute!