NSights Blog

Help make it easier to bike to campus

Skip the campus parking fees and consider commuting by bike! Local cycling groups are working on projects to improve riding on and around campus, and your input could help.

As parking fees increase and parking around campus gets more crowded, growing numbers of UNR students, faculty, and staff are considering cycling as an inexpensive, healthy transportation alternative. The University’s Bicycle Working Group and several community organizations have been working hard to make bicycling to and on campus a viable option. To learn about these efforts – and how you can help! – read on.

The Truckee Meadows Bicycle Alliance (TMBA) has proposed creating a dedicated, physically separated bicycle track along Center Street between the University and Midtown Reno to encourage bicycle commuting and to create a safe space to ride for cyclists of all levels. The University administration has given this plan their stamp of approval. Now, we need your help! Members of the Reno City Council have asked TMBA to gauge the appetite for the proposed safe cycle route among the University community, especially students. So please take 2-3 minutes to fill out TMBA’s survey, whether you’re a seasoned cyclist or you’ve never so much as touched a bike. Most importantly, please encourage your students to take this survey and to share it with their peers! Two participants will be randomly selected to win a $25 gift certificate to either The Hub or Coffeebar. So to get your caffeine fix while helping guide transportation options in our community, be sure to take the survey and encourage your students to do the same.

In addition, the Bicycle Working Group is partnering with Assistant Professors Scott Kelley (geography) and Hao Xu (civil and environmental engineering) to run research studies on bicycle and pedestrian traffic around campus. This will help inform campus planning for optimal bike routes and signage for alternative routes around high-traffic areas. Kelley will be conducting a new study on campus bicycle commuters starting April 2, and we’re looking for 100 volunteers who can track their bike commute to and around the University during the day. Participants will use the Strava app to track their rides for two weeks. We’re looking for a diverse and representative group of bicyclists—undergrad and grad students, faculty and staff.

If you want to take advantage of improved bike infrastructure but you don’t have a bike to ride, don’t fret: Bike share is officially coming to Reno! Starting this May, the Cities of Reno and Sparks, Washoe County, and the Regional Transportation Commission will launch a pilot program to bring a fleet of bikes to select areas of the Truckee Meadows, including the University and surrounding neighborhoods. Details haven’t been released yet, but based on bike shares around the country, you will be able to easily rent bikes for short, point-to-point trips at a very low cost per ride. Stay tuned for more information about pricing, locations, and launch dates in a future post.

Once you’re safely on campus, how do you get to your office? The Bicycle Working Group maintains the Campus Cycling Map, which shows preferred routes for cyclists and provides locations of bike racks, secure bike lockers, tire inflation stations, and the new bicycle repair stand. Hard-copy maps, which include helpful tips and rules to keep in mind while riding on campus, are free and can be picked up at the Joe. Most importantly, when riding on campus, remember to slow down and be respectful to your fellow students, faculty and staff. We are happy to see so many cyclists on campus, but even a small minority of cyclists riding unsafely could ruin things for the rest of us. So reduce your speed and give way to pedestrians, especially in high-traffic areas.

If you decide to ditch the car and try biking to work, remember to register your bike. Registration is free and simple and comes with great upsides: It helps Police Services to locate your bike in the unlikely event that it becomes lost or stolen, and it allows the Bicycle Working Group to track cyclist numbers so we can better advocate for improved resources. Plus, riders who register get five free daily parking permits for those mornings when biking is not an option.

Creating a bicycle-friendly campus and community benefits everyone---it reduces traffic and parking pressure, decreases per-person facilities costs, and improves the physical and mental health of our Wolf Pack. If you have any questions or suggestions for the Bicycle Working Group, please visit us online. We’ll see you on the road!

Joanna Trieger is a technical writer in the College of Engineering, a member of the University’s Bicycle Working Group, and a volunteer with the Truckee Meadows Bicycle Alliance. She has been commuting by bike since 2011.

Joanna Trieger