By Timothy Clark, Bicycle Friendly Campus Intern
What gets you on your bike in the morning? Or, rather, what keeps you off it? The city of Bloomington and the Indiana University campus have made and are making consistent efforts to improve the bicycle infrastructure available to commuters. The city published its Bicycle and Pedestrian System Plan in 2008, identifying locations throughout the city to add bike routes, lanes, bicycle boulevards, and more. This plan is crucial for overcoming short- and long-term bicycle issues.
The main issues that I have confronted personally are threats to my safety, wayfinding (i.e. routes), and the winter in general.
As much as I would love for the city and university to solve the problem of it being so darn cold in the morning, I really can’t condone intentional climate change. Instead, I’ll just layer up and experience the season (and wipe the road salt of my bike at the end of the day).
My major barrier to commuting to bike is a lack of safe, well-marked bike routes. I ride up and down Jordan everyday, and nearly everyday, a car cuts into the bike lane and I politely knock on their window (“this is not an extra wide shoulder”).
I don’t find myself upset at the driver; there is a considerable lack of signage denoting the presence of my lane. Some signs, painted bicycle lanes, and I think Jordan Ave. would be phenomenal.
In the recent Transportation Demand Management plan (for a copy of this report, contact me) for IU, it was found that additional bike paths and covered, secure bicycle storage would encourage the most drive-alone commuters to start bicycling.
Is it that simple? If we build it, will they come?
Many studies have found that there is a profound positive correlation between bicycle lanes and bicycle commuters; qualitative survey evidence supports that this is more than simple correlation, this is causation. Safe, accessible bike lanes promote bicycle use, which in turn promotes economic growth, public health, and civic engagement.
This all seems pretty “duh” to me, but policy makers love numbers and peer-reviewed articles to base their decisions on.
So what’s next for IU? The city of Bloomington has its wonderful plan to follow through on, but the university still needs a cohesive itinerary.
The IUB Campus Master Plan states the necessity for elevating the status of bicycle and pedestrian modes of transportation to the level of automobiles. We are thereby compelled to act.
The IU Office of Sustainability, Architect’s Office, and additional agencies are looking into what to bring to the campus next. We are investigating the drafting of a campus Bicycle Master Plan that will identify the barriers to bicycling to campus and then provide the solutions. Many of this nation’s top universities have drafted and enacted Bicycle Master Plans (e.g. Stanford, U Virginia, U Georgia) and have witnessed fantastic success.
Through the continued commitment of the university, its bicyclists, and the community, we can assure that IU remains one of the top bicycle college in the US.
Let’s keep these bikes and good ideas rolling!
Contact bicycle[at]indiana.edu for more information.