By Dateline staff
The League of American Bicyclists today (April 22) announced UC Davis as the first university or college to receive the league’s platinum Bicycle Friendly Business award for helping to lead America "toward a greener future."
The league's business awards recognize employer efforts to encourage a more bicycle friendly atmosphere for employees and customers, or, in UC Davis' case, staff, faculty and students. They benefit from bike paths, high-security racks (more than 20,000 of them), free showers, safety programs and more — all meant to make commuting by bike a viable option.
The league calls bicycling "environmentally conscious," and indeed, UC Davis officials say bicyclists are helping the campus meet its sustainability goals.
The announcement comes, appropriately, on Earth Day — bolstering UC Davis’ No. 1 “cool school” status, as judged by the Sierra Club.
Two years ago, UC Davis received a gold award in the league’s first recognition of Bicycle Friendly Universities. The honor is good through 2015, although UC Davis is going for platinum in an early renewal.
Now, with the 2013-17 Bicycle Friendly Business award, the university can boast of already having one league platinum. The business awards program began in 2008 and has presented only eight platinums in that time — and never to a college or university. UC Davis had not sought the recognition until this year.
David Takemoto-Weerts, coordinator of the Bicycle Program within Transportation and Parking Services, or TAPS, said UC Davis provides “a safe, efficient and welcoming environment to encourage campus employees to choose cycling as their preferred commute mode.”
Takemoto-Weerts pointed out that commuting by bike is healthier and cheaper; reduces the demand for additional, expensive parking lots and garages; alleviates traffic congestion; and “generally makes for a much more pleasant place to work, learn and do research.”
In going for the Bicycle Friendly Business award, UC Davis cited such accommodations as restricting most vehicle traffic in the central campus, and, as an additional safety effort, the Bicycle Education and Enforcement Program, or BEEP, an online education module. Further, the ASUCD Bike Barn offers sale and service, and TAPS provides do-it-yourself bike repair stations around the campus.
The application also told about the TAPS goClub, the incentive-based program that encourages staff, faculty and students to use sustainable transportation — including bikes, buses, carpools and vanpools. Members have access to emergency rides, and complimentary, occasional-use parking permits, the latter to be used when the weather or other circumstances keep members from biking or from using other alternative transit.
TAPS Director Cliff Contreras said, “Many campus departments and individuals have contributed so much over the years to enhance the bicycling experience at UC Davis. I’m especially proud of the role our staff has played in this regard.”
'Transforming the workplace'
The league dates back to 1880, founded as the League of American Wheelman. Its mission today: “To promote bicycling for fun, fitness and transportation, and work through advocacy and education for a bicycle-friendly America.”
In representing the interests of the nation’s 57 million cyclists, the league “works to bring better bicycling to your community.” The league reports membership of 300,000 affiliated cyclists, including 25,000 individuals and 700 affiliated organizations.
In its Earth Day announcement, the league accorded Bicycle Friendly Business status to 63 businesses. In the program’s six-year history, the league has presented these awards to more than 500 businesses, government agencies and Fortune 500 companies “that are transforming the American workplace.”
Andy Clarke, the league’s president, said in a news release: “More and more business leaders are realizing that bicycling is a simple and cost-effective way to move toward a more productive company.
“Promoting healthy transportation is increasingly attractive to employers and prospective employees – and it’s moving America toward a more sustainable future.”
Earlier coverage: “We are officially a bicycle-friendly university, and a golden one, at that,” Dateline UC Davis (March 9, 2011)