Several College Park community members have raised concerns over a potentially dangerous bike lane intersection near the Purple Line tracks at the University of Maryland.

During the Purple Line’s construction, 16 miles of hiker-biker trails and bike lanes will be built parallel to the light rail’s tracks. The safety concerns stem from a section of the bike lane at the intersection of University Boulevard and Campus Drive. The lane’s design makes it possible for bike wheels to get caught in the track’s grooves, which could cause accidents.

The current bike lane along eastbound University Boulevard will direct bicyclists to cross the Purple Line tracks at Campus Drive at an approximately 20-degree angle, according to the light rail project’s design plans.

Industry standards from the National Association of City Transportation Officials and others state that if bike wheels cross a train track at an angle less than 45 degrees, they can get stuck into the track’s groove, causing a sudden halt of movement. The organization recommends cyclists cross tracks at a preferred angle of 90-degrees, but no less than 60-degrees.

Dan Behrend, a Riverdale Park resident and board member of cyclist advocacy group Bike Maryland, said he has been advocating for the intersection to be redesigned.

“There was a reasonable assumption by a lot of residents and even our local elected officials that those were going to be designed to be safe bicycle facilities that were welcoming to people with a wide range of ages and abilities,” Behrend said. “My concern would be that they’re going to wait until this is installed and people start getting hurt.”

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In a statement to The Diamondback, Kathryn Lamb, a Purple Line spokesperson, said the College Park area, specifically the University Boulevard and Campus Drive intersection, poses “unique design challenges with limited options for providing a continuous bike lane.” Lamb said bicyclists should dismount their bikes to cross the tracks.

There are no plans to reconfigure the intersection, according to Lamb.

Behrend hopes for a safe solution to make the intersection safer moving forward.

“If you follow the bike lane as they design it, you are likely to crash and get hurt,” Behrend said. “It's one of those things where you would just hope when it's pointed out, people would fix it.”

Some accidents have already occurred at this university as Purple Line track installation remains in progress.

Arvind Jaya Shankar, a doctoral biology student, broke his arm in October when he fell off his bike while turning near the Purple Line tracks on Regents Drive. Shankar has not ridden his bike since the incident and is still in physical therapy, he said.

Several local leaders have warned Purple Line officials of the hazardous intersection over the past few years.

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In a January campuswide email, this university warned community members about the light rail track’s potential dangers. The email also referenced signs posted near the tracks that advised riders to only cross at a 90-degree angle.

In a statement to The Diamondback, this university said that safety is of “the utmost importance” and that it has “advocated for a design that meets industry standards for bikeways.”

Michael Evans, a geology professor at this university, said he first noticed the dangerous angle in 2022 when he acquired the Purple Line’s track plans. Evans highlighted that he explained the potential danger and reconfiguration in a presentation to the Maryland Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee.

“The issue has been raised,” Evans said in an email to The Diamondback. “Everyone I can think of contacting is aware of it, but I don't know whether anyone is actually going to fix it.”

In December, College Park Mayor Fazlul Kabir implored Purple Line officials to reconfigure the intersection in a letter to county and state representatives.

“If MDOT MTA installs this bike lane as planned, people on bikes will crash, and some will get seriously injured. With the motor vehicle traffic volumes and speeds on University Boulevard, there is a risk that someone will get thrown from their bicycle into traffic and killed,” the letter read. “The crossing is dangerous by design.”