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Bike friendly campus: Bronze and moving up

The campus has made strides to become bronze level, and here's how to make the next big jump.

The League of American Bicyclists (LAB) recently renewed our designation as a Bronze-Level Bicycle Friendly University. Wondering how we earned the title and what it means for bikes on campus? Read on!

What is this Bicycle Friendly University thing?

The League of American Bicyclists maintains a list of campuses across the U.S. that are promoting bicycling and supporting bicyclists, called Bicycle Friendly Universities. The 208 universities that have received the designation have each been awarded either Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum status according to the bike-friendliness of their campus and the ridership in their community. The University of Nevada, Reno was awarded Bronze status in 2014, and we renewed that designation this year.

What did we do to earn Bronze?

The LAB awards Bronze status to universities that don’t necessarily feel super welcoming to bikes, but that are making solid progress on several fronts. In the last few years, one of our biggest steps forward was simply getting bikes recognized on campus---bikes are now in the University Administrative Manual and our Bicycle Working Group is an official subcommittee with a reporting line to the Provost. Changes are happening on the ground, too: We installed a public bicycle repair stand outside the JCSU, designated Walk Zones through congested areas, and advocated for bike wheeling ramps on staircases, the first of which is being installed in front of the new Pennington Engineering Building. We designed and printed campus bicycle maps, available on the Campus Bicycling website or in hard-copy at the first-floor info desk in the JCSU. Members of the Bicycle Working Group have also been advocating for safer bike infrastructure heading to and from campus: Evans Avenue has been redesigned with bike lanes, sharrows, and a multi-use path, and we scored a big win with the approval of the 1.3-mile Center Street Cycle Track, slated for construction in 2022. 

Why didn’t we bag that sweet Silver designation?

We’ve been working hard, but there’s so much more to do. Bike infrastructure on campus is lacking: We don’t have dedicated bike paths, and our plethora of stairways and narrow ramps can make biking from A to B a challenge. As a university, we don’t do a lot to encourage our students and employees to bike to campus, like offer incentives or provide showers or changing facilities. We could also do more to educate our campus community about how to get started biking, how to interact with cyclists when you’re driving a car, and how to navigate campus safely on two wheels.

Let’s get to Platinum!

Yes! We’re excited, too, which is why the Bicycle Working Group is working hard on several new initiatives that will make our campus more bike-friendly. Soon, we’ll kick off our Bicycle Ambassadors Program, which will highlight cyclists around campus who can answer your questions, help you get started cycling to work or school, and maybe even convince you that you can ride in the rain. We’re continuing to work with Facilities to identify engineering improvements that can make it easier and safer to bike across campus and to lock up your steed at your destination. We’re collaborating with ASUN and Police Services to promote and enforce safe travel on campus. We are a committee of volunteers, but we hope to hire a paid position in the near future that can leverage our efforts to create a campus environment that offers a truly platinum experience to all modes of travelers.

Where do I come in?

We want to hear from you! If you bike to campus, what’s great about your commute, and which parts bug you? If you’ve never biked to work or school but you’d like to, tell us what’s holding you back and what would get you started. If you see bikes behaving badly, we want to know, and if you’re a cyclist who’s encountered a near-miss with a car, we want to know that, too. You can find us online at unr.edu/bicycle, contact our chair, Amy Fitch, at afitch@unr.edu, or contact me at jtrieger@unr.edu. We’d love to hear from you. Until then, happy trails!

Joanna Trieger
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