The University of Virginia has received a bronze designation in the League of American Bicyclists’ “Bicycle Friendly University” program.
The award, presented this week, recognizes the University’s efforts to accommodate bicycling as a safe and convenient mode of transportation. The University has installed public bicycle maintenance stations, added bicycle racks to University Transit buses, worked with the city to create bicycle lanes on streets around the University, offered bicycle-related classes and staged on-Ground bicycle-centered events, including maintenance workshops.
“It is great to be recognized with a medal from the League of American Bicyclists,” said Rebecca White, director of the Department of Parking & Transportation for the University. “But one of the truest values of the Bicycle Friendly University program is that the league provides feedback on how we can continue to improve conditions for bicyclists in various realms like education, infrastructure, safety and planning.”
As part of the program, the league will periodically review the University’s bicycling practices and make recommendations on what can be changed. The first set of recommendations won’t be in for several weeks, White said.
U.Va. is now one of 75 Bicycle Friendly Universities in 32 states and Washington, D.C. The universities are divided into platinum, gold, silver and bronze.
U.Va. officials have noted that bicycles are used more now than ever.
“Bicycle parking doubled at Observatory Hill Dinning Hall over the summer,” said Jonathan Monceaux, a transportation demand management professional with Parking and Transportation. “Bicycle parking at Clark Hall is currently being upgraded, and sheltered bicycle parking was built outside the U.Va. Medical Center.”
Parking & Transportation has worked with several other departments within the University to make U.Va. more accommodating to bicycles.
The Clark Hall bicycle parking area is a joint project of the Office of the Architect and Facilities Management, while bicycle parking at the Observatory Hill Dining Hall was directed by U.Va. Business Operations, and the Medical Center bicycle parking was directed by the Office of the Architect. All these projects were paid for through the Grounds Improvement Fund program.
Monceaux also said there was increased participation in Earth Week activities, such as a trail workday with the Charlottesville Area Mountain Bike Club, and during Bike to Work Week.
“There are many active groups on Grounds that are working on bicycle issues, including U.Va. Parking & Transportation, Office of the Architect, Facilities Management, Green Grounds, U.Va. Triathlon Team, U.Va. Sustainability Advocates, Bike Charlottesville, Bike U.Va. and the Charlottesville Area Mountain Biking Club,” White said. “We have a written policy, a master plan, a website dedicated to bicycle commuting and an every-other-year mode split survey. We plan to implement a bicycle share program on Grounds in late spring 2014.”
The University has installed five bicycle repair stations around Grounds, where riders can affect basic bicycle repairs themselves, using tools at the station. U.Va. entities, including the School of Architecture and U.Va. Dining, sponsored several stations in support of the University’s commitment to supporting bicycling. Working with partners, U.Va. has sponsored bicycle commuting classes, bicycle maintenance workshops and offered the Bicycle League’s own Traffic Skills 101 course, all of which were taught by U.Va. employee volunteers.
The Bicycle Friendly University program seeks to change the way universities evaluate sustainability, transportation options and quality of life, while allowing administrators to benchmark their progress toward improving their bicycle-friendliness, according to Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists. A bronze-level award recognizes an institution’s commitment to improving conditions for bicycling through investment in bicycling promotion, education programs, infrastructure and pro-bicycling policies.
“As our Bicycle Friendly University program grows, the promise for a more Bicycle Friendly America does, too,” Clarke said in a press release announcing the awards.. “Colleges and universities propel our leaders of the future, and more and more of those students are choosing bicycles as their transportation option of choice. We commend universities, such as U.Va., who are leading the way to a healthier, more sustainable future.”
“This recognition reinforces that although we still have some work to do, we are heading in the right direction as defined by a national organization,” White said.