UF awarded silver status in Bicycle Friendly University program
December 1, 2016
On November 29, the League of American Bicyclists announced 51 new and renewing Bicycle Friendly Universities℠ (BFUs) from 25 states, There are now 164 BFUs in 44 states and Washington, DC, a cutting-edge group of colleges and universities across the United States transforming their campuses and the communities around them.
“In its fifth year, we’ve seen the Bicycle Friendly University program’s momentum continue to grow and reach even more campuses across the country,” said Bill Nesper, Programs Director. “We applaud this round of BFUs for raising the standard and being innovative in making bicycling a safe, convenient and enjoyable option for students, staff and visitors alike.”
States with multiple BFUs
This round saw several states with multiple Bicycle Friendly Universities, including Florida with one renewing and three new BFUs. Georgia had three, with one new and two renewing at higher levels. Illinois led the country this round with one renewing and five new BFUs.
One of the new BFUs from Illinois is Northwestern University, in Evanston, IL, which was awarded Silver status. According to Julie Cahillane of Northwestern’s Office of Sustainability, “We are constantly working to support the City of Evanston’s designation as a Silver Bicycle Friendly Community. We are a fortunate university to be located in Evanston and we work to engage the university within the community as best as possible. This means supporting their leadership as a top rated bicycling community and working to make sure that Northwestern’s campus works towards the same goals of creating the best accommodations possible to encourage bicyclists.” One way Northwestern worked toward these goals was to work with the city to bring three Divvy bikeshare stations to campus.
BFUs in large and small universities
BFUs come in all sizes. This year, the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL, with over 52,000 students, achieved Silver status. The university is particularly proud of their Gator Gears Student Bike Rental Program, a semester long rental model that provides students with a bicycle, helmet and lock. The program began in Fall 2015 with 100 bikes and has been so popular with students that an additional 100 bikes have been acquired for Fall 2016. According to Jacob Adams of the university’s Office of Sustainability, Gator Gears is “an innovative and cost effective program designed to provide a great cycling experience for students, showing them the value of cycling as a viable alternative form of transportation. The program aims to turn its participants into cyclists who appreciate the value and usefulness of a high quality, well-maintained bicycle.”
With under 1,000 students, Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, NC, is also a new silver BFU. Lees-McRae incorporates cycling into community service, participating in events like Ride for Reading; intercollegiate athletics, with the road and mountain biking teams earning 10 national championships; and academics, with a minor course of study available focusing on bicycling. Adjunct Professor Tim Hall says, “Our tradition of collegiate cycling matched to the bicycling minor degree curriculum provides a unique educational opportunity to be introduced into the many sides of bicycling that go into sustainability of bicycling for not only the racer but the non-competitive recreational bicyclist. Several of our graduates have already gone on to jobs at [large bicycle industry companies] Rotor, Giant, Trek and Yakima.”
Universities moving up in status
University staff and advocates have said that the BFU Feedback the League provides has been instrumental for action planning and implementation. Eleven of this round’s renewing Bicycle Friendly Universities moved up to a higher award level. One of those, Boise State University in Boise, ID, rose from Silver to Gold status. Students and staff at Boise State have access to the Cycle Learning Center (CLC), which offers bike sales and repairs, instructional clinics and information on alternative transportation. According to CLC Coordinator Gabe Finkelstein, “The CLC is a full service shop, making both quick repairs and in-depth overhauls affordable and convenient for anyone on campus, including the public. Education also happens daily at the CLC, where riders take classes, join rides and learn how to maintain their bikes.”
To learn more about the BFU program, visit the League www.bikeleague.org/university.