Trends in Green (Sustainable Innovations on Campus)

Bicycle-Friendly Universities

Bicycle-Friendly Universities

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE LEAGUE OF AMERICAN BICYCLISTS

The numbers are clear: young adults are choosing to ride more and drive less.

That’s where the Bicycle Friendly University (BFU) program comes in. An initiative of the League of American Bicyclists (bikeleague.org), the oldest bicyclist advocacy organization in the country, the BFU program has certified 100 colleges and universities in 37 states and Washington, DC, as bicycle friendly.

These BFUs include nine of the top 10 colleges and universities in the U.S., a growing number of community colleges, Ivy League standouts, land-grant institutions and many more.

The Bicycle Friendly University program recognizes these institutions of higher education for promoting and providing more bikeable campuses for students, staff and visitors. The BFU program provides the roadmap and technical assistance to create great campuses for riding. Once they are participants, institutions are recognized on a medal scale, from Bronze to Diamond.

Colleges and university campuses are unique environments for their high-density, stimulating atmosphere and defined boundaries. These factors make them ideal environments to incorporate bikes. Many colleges and universities have built upon these good conditions and embraced the enthusiasm for more bicycle-friendly campuses by incorporating bike share programs, bike co-ops, clubs, bicycling education classes and policies to promote bicycling as a preferred means of transportation. With the goal to build on this momentum and inspire more action to build healthy, sustainable and livable institutions of higher education, the League of American Bicyclists created the Bicycle Friendly University program.

The Bicycle Friendly University program evaluates applicants’ efforts to promote bicycling in five primary areas: engineering, encouragement, education, enforcement and evaluation/planning, known as the Five Es.

Yale University

“Elevating Yale’s Bicycle Friendly University status from Bronze to Silver was a strategy in our Sustainability Strategic Plan, and we felt we improved our offerings for bicyclists by — among other things — bringing a 50-bicycle bike share to our campus, and increasing bicycle parking capacity,” says Holly Parker, director of Yale’s Sustainable Transportation Systems. “In New Haven, we’re extremely fortunate to have a staff in city government dedicated to improving the city’s roadways and bike parking options to make biking a safer and friendlier mode of transportation for university affiliates and local residents alike.”

Montgomery County Community College

Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) in Pottstown, PA, is a new Bronze-level BFU — and one of the first community colleges to join the growing ranks of BFUs.

“As an institution that focuses heavily on sustainability and green initiatives, becoming a Bicycle Friendly University is yet another step in the right direction,” says Gregg Heimer, MCCC Bike Advocacy committee chair. “We’re so excited that we have been awarded this recognition after three years of improvements and adding additional bike-related services around campus. Having a campus with a 100 percent commuting population, it was a challenge to get to this point, but we focused on specific areas of improvement and are extremely proud to be recognized for our advocacy. Looking forward, we hope to increase biking awareness through local partnerships, improve upon our community infrastructure to urge bike commuting to campus, and become a role model for similar community colleges across the country.”

How to Join

Any U.S. institution of higher education may apply to the BFU program, and the next deadline is August 2015. Interested in learning more? Visit bikeleague.org/university.

This article originally appeared in the December 2014 issue of College Planning & Management.

About the Author

Amelia Neptune is the program manager for the League of American Bicyclists Bicycle Friendly University program.

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