By Bill Brown, Director of Sustainability, IU Bloomington
This May we celebrate National Bike Month as an opportunity to promote an activity that is fun, healthy and sustainable – three words not likely to be associated with driving to campus alone.
Fortunately, we live in a community in which bicycle transportation is not only feasible but often the more convenient choice. Studies indicate that over 70% of faculty, staff and students live within 3 miles of campus, which is an easy distance on a bike.
In 2010, IU Bloomington was selected as one of the first twenty Bicycle Friendly Universities. The assessment rated us at the bronze level and came with a list of recommendations regarding where we need to improve to move up to silver, gold and platinum.
IUB has multiple groups moving toward better bike amenities. The IU Office of Sustainability Transportation Working Group, chaired by Perry Maull and Virginia Sojdehei, has worked in collaboration with sustainability interns and campus departments to develop bicycle amenities, incentives and programs to encourage bicycling. A Bicycle Steering Committee was started in 2010 and this past year an official student organization, IU Students for Bikes, was chartered.
Over the past year, we’ve developed improved bicycle infrastructure. Parking Operations and the University Architects Office have collaborated on better outdoor parking facilities and bike repair stations near Well’s Library and Ernie Pyle Hall. In addition, bike repair kits can now be found at all parking garage attendant stations.
A professional Transportation Demand Management (TDM) study is underway which includes analysis of a major faculty, staff and student survey of transportation choices.
The City of Bloomington, the first Bicycle Friendly City in Indiana, has set its sights on platinum by 2016 and a Bloomington Platinum Bike Task Force completed its report late last year. As part of this plan, the city is in the midst of a Bike Transportation Study which prioritizes future bicycle infrastructure projects, including a major east-west passage on 7th Street that will pass through the heart of the IU Bloomington campus. Earlier this month, ideas for improving IU Campus Bike Initiatives made up one of the breakout sessions of the Platinum Bike Summit at City Hall.
Finally, planning is underway for the first Campus Bike Fair to be held this fall. The event will allow students, faculty and staff to sample bike equipment and learn more about bike safety, rules of the road, bike routes, and other features of our bike friendly campus and community.
If you would like to join in the fun, improve your health, save money and lower your environmental impact all at the same time, contact our new bike intern, Kevin Sonoff, via firstname.lastname@example.org, follow @IUBikes on twitter, or visit the new IU Bike website at: http://www.indiana.edu/~sustain/bicycle/. Get involved and get on your bike!