Vélocampus du Lion is a student organization that is highly attached to the green values it hopes to transmit. Its activism has recently gained recognition: Crédit Agricole’s local branch awarded them a prize for being the association they "most have a crush on." This occurred on March 20, 2015 at the Granit Theater in Belfort, France in the presence of Olivier Prévôt, Director of the Institute of Technology of Belfort-Montbéliard (IUT). Crédit Agricole not only allowed students in the organization to present their projects and perspectives in front of an audience of 800 people, but also wrote them a check for 2,836 euros.
Environmentalism at the Heart of their Mission
Created in 2008 to benefit students, but also teachers and staff of IUT, the association counts 14 leaders in addition to more than 80 members. “Our mission, explains the President of Vélocampus du Lion, Déborah Delaunay, is to:
- Promote the use of bikes,
- Make accessible to everyone by offering inexpensive rentals,
- Make people aware of eco-citizenship and sustainable development, and
- Promote eco-mobility on campus.
“These primary missions reveal another: promoting individual and collective health through cycling. Cycling is healthy, but also good for the city and environment. Through cycling promotion and the different activities that we organize, we hope to encourage working together on campus. And, of course, supporting the energy transition.”
Renting bikes is the organization’s principal activity, but scholarships for bike purchases are also organized throughout the year. Bike repair classes are offered, “so that everyone can repair their own bike, without help, even after their time at IUT,” explains Théo Coutance, a student in his second year majoring in social careers with an emphasis on management. “
“IUT is only a temporary stage of life, and it is important to pass these things on.” With this goal in mind, the association organizes numerous presentations and activities to raise awareness. “Several times a year,” Théo continues, “we organize bike rides to places like Lake Malsaucy, near Belfort. This allows people to meet other cyclists and socialize, and also to spread our values.” Vélocampus du Lion also proposes organic potluck suppers. “These are convivial moments. They are times where we propose different nutritional practices (which are also a part of Vélocampus’s values) to members and potential members, all while sharing an organic meal.”
A key moment during the year is Sustainable Development Week, during which several activities are set up for students. This year’s events take place from March 31-April 5, because students have obligatory internships during the official European week. At that time, there events such as: a race comparing transit by bike, on foot, by bus, and by car in the city of Belfort to see which method is the most efficient, a stationary bike race the distance from Belfort to Paris, and a bike show.
Creating social connections between students is another mission. This goal is the reason Vélocampus organizes an inter-associational party, allowing them to highlight other campus associations’ activities and to reinforce student cohesion. For the second year in a row, Vélocampus du Lion is organizing a national forum that will reunite all of France’s Vélocampus associations “to exchange ideas and progress together.” It is in this spirit of unity that the association also participates in the university's telethon every year.
Perspectives and Ambitions
Thanks to the prize they have received, Vélocampus will expand and renovate its bike park. This is in order to offer members quality bikes, but also to more deeply commit to the sustainable goals of their university's eco-campus project. “We would also like to grow and create a partnership with UTBM (another local technology university, pictured below), which has 5,000 students,” explains Loïc Schaltcher, new Vice-President of the association.
“As an intermediary to the national Vélocampus forum, we want to spread our activity to more campuses in the region, but also to our neighboring universities. We would also like to propose signage in the city of Belfort to make ourselves known and to bring awareness to residents.” Loïc explains that bike renovations are taken into account in the bike scholarships given out. The bike park itself is updated every 3-4 years. And, he adds, “this year, we began a partnership with Tous en Selle, an association that updates bikes and sends them to Cambodia so that children can bike to school rather than go by foot, sometimes walking up to 8 km.”
Does your local university or alma mater have a student cycling association? What projects have they undertaken to increase cycling awareness and use? Share your stories and thoughts in the comments area below.
Original article, originally published in French, here.
Credits: Images and data linked to sources.