At this week’s National Bike Summit, being held in Washington, DC, awards were announced for the newest “Bicycle Friendly America” category, Universities (joining Communities, States and Businesses). The University of Oregon was one of 32 applicants for the recognition and was one of 9 communities awarded the Silver level award by the League of American Bicyclists. A total of 20 schools were given the award with two receiving Gold (University of California’s Davis & Santa Barbara) and one Platinum (Stanford University).
Highlighting Stanford University the League said they stood out as Platinum for their breadth of programs, including: a great cycling network, education programs like the Bike Safety Dorm Challenge, and bicycling incentive programs that resulted in an extraordinary number of people biking for transportation and recreation. Currently, 41 percent of people at Stanford commute by bike, compared to 17 percent of people at UO.
Briana Orr, former Bike Program Coordinator at the University of Oregon and current City of Eugene Transportation Planning Intern, and Ted Sweeney, current Bike Program Coordinator, collaborated on the application this fall and are happy with the award. Orr says that “it recognizes our achievements giving us plenty of room to grow and improve.”
Some of that improvement is already planned and came out of the application process. “It was apparent that one weakness was in our bike network on campus, so this term we applied for some funding through the ASUO’s ‘over-realized funds’ and were awarded $17,000 for bike network improvements including wayfinding signage, shared lane markings, and more,” (more on this in an upcoming story on WeBikeEugene).
More support from UO administration, through the creation of a campus transportation department and a full-time bicycle coordinator, was another area Orr noticed would help move the University up (not only in the award category but also in bike mode share levels).
Some of the things that were seen as strengths for the UO included innovative bicycling initiatives, its location in Eugene (a Gold Bike Friendly City), and bicycle educational opportunities. The most innovative initiative, is the three year old UO Bike Program (part of the EMU Outdoor Program) which loans bikes to students, holds encouragement events, and has a do-it-yourself maintenance shop at 18th & University.
Sweeney, UO Bike Program Coordinator, was also excited for the recognition and said “this award shows that we still have plenty of work to do. While we scored well, we also came in far behind a fellow Pac 10 school, Stanford. I think students have demonstrated that we have the desire and drive to triumph in this arena and become an ideal campus for bicycling.”
Congratulations to the University of Oregon, and especially to the students and staff who put the work in for the application and who are working to move UO up to Gold and Platinum levels!
To see the complete list of Bicycle Friendly University awards see this PDF.