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We are officially a bicycle-friendly university, and a golden one, at that

By Dave Jones on March 9, 2011 in University

UC Davis two-wheeled its way to a gold award in the League of American Bicyclists’ first-ever listing of bicycle-friendly universities.

Only Stanford scored better, receiving a platinum — revenge, in a way, for the Aggies’ victory over the Cardinal on the football field in 2005.

Thirty-two universities and colleges applied for bicycle-friendly status, and 20 qualified, with the league awarding one platinum, two golds (UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara), nine silvers (including UC Irvine) and eight bronzes (including UCLA).

See the complete list of award recipients below.

Read about the campus's other green awards and ratings, on the Sustainable 2nd Century website.

The League of American Bicyclists also runs a bicycle-friendly community program — under which the city of Davis has been accorded platinum-level status since 2005.

Now it is the university’s turn: David Takemoto-Weerts, Bicycle Program coordinator, accepted UC Davis’ award today (March 9) in Washington, D.C., during a luncheon at the league's National Bike Summit.

Meanwhile, back on campus, nearly 17,000 students, staff and faculty continued doing what they do most every day — ride their bikes. The riders include those who come from off campus, others who live on campus and still more who get to campus in other ways, and ride bikes once they get here. In fact, surveyors estimated that about 45 percent of us — or 18,123 people — have a bike on campus on an average day.

The League of American Bicyclists put out a news release saying the league’s new program “recognizes colleges and universities that create exceptional environments where bicycling can thrive.”

Further, the program “provides a roadmap and technical assistance to create great campuses for bicycling.”

Cliff Contreras, director of Transportation and Parking Services, or TAPS, which includes the Bicycle Program, said: "We're thrilled to have our Bicycle Program recognized in this way. We are particularly proud of our staff and the many campus departments that have worked so hard to continue to enhance our program."

He added: "We're going to continue to work hard to make the UC Davis Bicycle Program the best in the country."

Applicants for bicycle-friendly university status completed a lengthy questionnaire that focused on 5 E's: engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement, and evaluation and planning.

Subsequently, UC Davis sent out a survey — provided by the League of American Bicyclists — to some 1,500 people (students, staff and faculty), asking about the campus's bicycling environment, and whether they perceived it to be friendly.

"Those responses were not sent to us, but to the league," Takemoto-Weerts said by e-mail today from Washington.

A 'friendship' dating back 50 years

In responding to the league's questionnaire, Takemoto-Weerts described university and city investments dating back to the mid-1960s — investments that he said "set the stage for the community’s future friendly reputation for bicycling."

The city’s contributions are exemplified by the creation and installation of bike lanes throughout the community, Takemoto-Weerts said.

Simultaneously, he said, UC Davis closed the campus core to almost all motor vehicle traffic, instantly creating a network of wide paths with separate walkways, and started to build bike paths connecting the campus perimeter and city bikeways to the core area, further reducing potential conflicts between motorists and cyclists.

In addition, then-Chancellor Emil Mrak required bike parking at all campus destinations — and specified that such parking had to be sufficient to meet the demand and sited conveniently near major building entrances.

In 1972, the campus built its first roundabout to improve bicycle circulation and safety. Today, the campus boasts 15 roundabouts.

"While there have been many additional important campus investments for cycling since that era, it can be argued that virtually all of them can be traced back to, and served to upgrade and augment the pioneering efforts of the visionary campus planners and administrators of almost 50 years ago," Takemoto-Weerts said.

UC Davis' long history of embracing the bicycle "is what sets us apart from the other campuses," Takemoto-Weerts said by telephone today from Washington.

His response to the league questionnaire also looked to the future. He cited the extensive network of bike paths that are being built at UC Davis West Village, and the network's connection to the central campus less than a mile away, providing "extraordinary bicycle access for more than 3,500 UC Davis students or employees."

The application also notes the bicycling component of the university's alternative transportation program, the goClub, which provides a variety of incentives for its biking members. For example, they are allowed to use lockers and showers at the Activities and Recreation Center or Hickey Gym, and they are eligible for a 20 percent discount on bike lockers.

And, understanding that bicylists may not be able to ride every day, the goClub provides complimentary parking permits and a 40 percent discount on 10-ride passes for Unitrans. The goClub also will arrange to drive you home, in the event of an emergency.

Universities lead the way

Besides bicycle-friendly universities and communities, the league’s Bicycle-Friendly America program also designates bicycle-friendly states and businesses.

Bill Nesper, director of Bicycle Friendly America, said in the news release: “Universities have long served as incubators for developing bike-friendly cultures and practices, and that has a big impact on the expectations that students bring to the workplace and beyond.

“With the launch of the Bicycle-Friendly Universities program, we’re able to highlight the crucial role that academic institutions play in shaping a more bike-friendly future.”

The bicycle-friendly universities in the inaugural class promote bicycling in a variety of ways, according to the league's news release. It noted "great bicycling facilities" at UC Davis; safe, convenient bike parking at the University of Minnesota; and incentive programs for students and staff at Emory University.

The news release declared that Stanford University stands out for its breadth of programs, including a great cycling network, education programs like the Bike Safety Dorm Challenge and incentive programs that contributed to a bike-commuting percentage of 41 percent.

UC Davis compares favorably on bike-commuting percentages, according to the university's responses to the League of American Bicyclists' questionnaire. Citing October 2009 survey data — weighted to reflect a proper distribution of students and staff — UC Davis estimated that about 56 percent of the university's average daily population (22,649 out of 40,209 people) bike to the campus or on the campus at least once a week, and about 42 percent (16,840 people) do so on an average weekday.

The survey results further indicated that 39 percent of the campus population identified the bicycle as their primary mode of transportation, and 47 percent of the survey respondents identified the bicycle as their primary mode of transportation at least once a week.

2011 Spring Bicycle-Friendly University Winners

Platinum — Stanford University

Gold — UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara

Silver — University of Arizona; California State University, Long Beach; Colorado State University; UC Irvine; University of Minnesota; University of Oregon; Portland (Ore.) State University; University of Washington; and University of Wisconsin, Madison

Bronze — Boise (Idaho) State University; Cornell University (New York); Emory University (Atlanta); Indiana University; UCLA; University of Maryland, College Park; Michigan State University; and University of North Carolina, Greensboro

Honorable mention — University of Central Oklahoma; University of Chicago; University of Cincinnati; Duke University (Durham, N.C.); University of Hawaii; University of Kentucky; Macalester College (St. Paul, Minn.); University of Missouri, Kansas City; University of Texas, Austin; and University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

On the Web

UC Davis Bicycle Program

Transportation and Parking Services

goClub (membership is free)

League of American Bicyclists

National Bike Summit

 

Media contact(s)

Dave Jones, Dateline, 530-752-6556, dljones@ucdavis.edu

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