I recently explored the bike-friendly status bestowed upon the University of Michigan and its town Ann Arbor by the League of American Bicyclists. A general consensus on their respective bronze and silver-level ratings is that there is room for improvement. An interesting way to look at the bike community in Ann Arbor is to consider the impact the University has had on it.
The University’s campus is a beautiful place to walk and compact enough to make it from class to class in ten minutes. But for students who live a bit further off campus biking provides a quicker way to make it to the lecture hall. The University has been making strides recently to promote more bicycling with a campus-wide sustainability initiative.
Bringing a bike to campus is a suggestion to students at freshman orientation and a place to lock your bike up is available outside most University buildings and residence halls. Ramping up their promotion efforts, the University launched the Blue Bikes program this past fall. Students can rent a bicycle for the day, the weekend, or even a full semester (for only $75!) and are given a helmet and lock to accompany the rental. With this, the University hopes to see increased bike travel on campus.
Another example of UM’s impact on bike culture on campus and in the area is the effort by undergraduate engineering students to get their bike-share prototype implemented across the city. With the city of Ann Arbor looking into a bike-share program, the student startup A2B Bikeshare put their best foot forward with a bike sporting a solar-powered touchscreen that would make rental transactions and provide guided tours. A university town may be the perfect place to experiment with better and more efficient ways to promote bicycling.
In what ways do you see students contributing to the evolution of bike culture and the logistics of planning for bikes?
Credits: Images and data linked to sources.