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.
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 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?