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University programs promote bicycling

Posted Dec 02 2008 3:06am

From the New York Times, 10.19.08:
With Free Bikes, Challenging Car Culture on Campus
BIDDEFORD, Me. — When Kylie Galliani started at the University of New England in August, she was given a key to her dorm, a class schedule and something more unusual: a $480 bicycle. “I was like, ‘A free bike, no catch?’ ” Ms. Galliani, 17, a freshman from Fort Bragg, Calif., asked. “It’s really an ideal way to get around the campus.”

University administrators and students nationwide are increasingly feeling that way too. The University of New England and Ripon College in Wisconsin are giving free bikes to freshmen who promise to leave their cars at home. Other colleges are setting up free bike sharing or rental programs, and some universities are partnering with bike shops to offer discounts on purchases.

The goal, college and university officials said, is to ease critical shortages of parking and to change the car culture that clogs campus roadways and erodes the community feel that comes with walking or biking around campus.

“We’re seeing an explosion in bike activity,” said Julian Dautremont-Smith, associate director of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, a nonprofit association of colleges and universities. “It seems like every week we hear about a new bike sharing or bike rental program.”

Here at the University of New England, officials wonder what will happen when snow starts falling, but they are looking toward bike-sharing programs in cities like Copenhagen and Montreal as proof that they can work in the cold.( Read more.)
University students are prime recruits for bicycle commuting: young, relatively fit, cash-poor. (Unfortunately, some insecure college students are also vulnerable to the illusory ego-boosting image of car culture.) As an employee at the most bicycling intensive campus in North America--the University of California, Davis --I've been very happy to see the bike promotion initiatives popping up at university campuses across the U.S. This article from the New York Times provides a great summary.

Other higher education initiatives of interest include Michigan State University's bike leasing project; the seven-year-old "cruiser co-op" at the University of Montana; the Ramwheels program at Colorado State University; the used bicycle recycling efforts at Framingham State University; and the bike lending program at the University of Missouri Kansas City.

Other bicycling programs in academia? If you are a university student, faculty, or staff, what is your campus doing to encourage or discourage bicycle use? Any suggestions for encouraging college students to persist with bicycling after they graduate?

Image: University of New England. Bikes are labeled with student names.
Visit:No cars, free bikes for UNE freshmen, Portland Press-Herald
Visit:Bicycle program booming at the University of South Carolina, Island Packet (Hilton Head)
Visit:Cal's Green Bike Share Program, PlayGreen Blog
Visit:Administrators consider instituting project for campus bicycle use, Murray State News (Kentucky)
Visit:SPOKES students put the fun between their legs, The Martlet
Visit:Colleges use rewards to entice students, staff to go green, San Diego Union-Tribune
Visit:Class aims to promote bicycling, The Oxford Press (OH)
Visit:Campus loans out dumped bicycles, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Visit:On-campus bike use proves helpful for environment, Daily Campus (University of Connecticut)
Visit:Bike co-op makes campus commute quicker, easier, The Hawk (St. Joseph's University, Philadelphia)
Visit:Bikes made fashionable for college, Bikes Commute Tips Blog
Visit:David Takemoto-Weerts: The collegiate cycling environment, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit:Colorado study on collegiate helmet use, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit:Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site
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