OSU Oval “Walk Zone” Official; Only Pedestrians Allowed

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Students walk on Ohio State University's Oval, which is now a walk zone.(Photo: WOSU/Sam Hendren)
Students walk on Ohio State University's Oval, which is now a walk zone.(Photo: WOSU/Sam Hendren)

The Oval at Ohio State University is now designated as a “walk zone.” That means only pedestrians can cross the Oval; riding bicycles or skateboards is prohibited. The new rule took effect Wednesday.

Dozens of volunteers were on the Oval Wednesday handing out flyers that told students about the change.

“The oval is becoming a walk zone so you have to walk your bike or dismount your skateboards,” said one volunteer as she approached a pedestrian.

Informational brochure on a bicycleInformation about the new “walk zone” on Ohio State’s
Oval was distributed on Wednesday.
Photo by WOSU/Sam Hendren

Thousands of flyers were given out, mostly to people on foot; most bicyclists simply whizzed right past the volunteers without stopping.

There were a few exceptions. Bicyclist Michael Cardwell decided to comply with the new requirement.

“Well a guy just stopped me; I almost flipped over my handlebars a little bit,” Cardwell said.

Q: “Do you plan to continue to walk your bike across the Oval?”

“I guess, yeah, unfortunately,” Cardwell said.

University officials know the new policy dubbed “Honor the Oval” will be a hard sell for some bicyclists and skateboarders. One young man became angry when a volunteer told him about the new rule.

“It’s bulls**t is what it is,” he said.

A sign on Ohio State's Oval announces it is now a walk zoneA sign on Ohio State’s Oval announces it is now a walk zone.
Photo by WOSU/Sam Hendren

Ohio State senior vice president for Administration and Planning, Jay Kasey, was out on the Oval Wednesday. Kasey co-chaired the traffic safety task force that drew up the new provisions.

“According to our long established rules here at OSU, we should not ride bicycles on footpaths. The Oval is a footpath so we’re trying to explain to bicyclists that they need to stay in the roadways around the Oval but not on sidewalks in the Oval,” Kasey says.

Physics Department employee Terry Bradley says she likes the new walk zone concept.

“I think that’s a good idea, I really do, for the safety aspect of it. Let’s protect the pedestrian walkways because we have increasing numbers of people on campus.

The university says students, faculty and staff will be allowed sufficient time to modify their behavior. Enforcement, which will include fines, begins this fall.

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