University students bike toward a sustainable campus

5/27/2009 | By: Skyler Dillon  |

The University of Nevada, Reno is adding a bit of green to its silver and blue these days. May is National Bike Month, and many students are both improving their own health and reducing the toll of auto emissions on the community by riding to campus on two wheels instead of four.

According to John Sagebiel, environmental affairs manager of the University Environmental Health and Safety Department, bicycles reduce polluting emissions and road congestion and are one of the best ways to promote sustainability on campus.

“The benefits are many,” he said. “Fitness, exercise, fresh air--but best of all is the enjoyment of riding.”

That attitude is one reason behind the recent major increase in the number of bicycles at the University. Michelle Horton, alternate transportation and special event manager for University Parking and Transportation Services, said that the number of registered bikes on campus has increased from 218 to 527 in the past six years.

The increase proves the success of the OPTIONS campaign, which encourages the campus community to consider non-driving ways of getting to campus, such as biking, carpooling and public transit, before getting in the car each morning. The response from students and faculty has been strong. The campus drive-alone rate is now 44 percent. That’s a 15 percent drop from 2002, when 57 percent of students and faculty were taking their own cars to class.

If the price of gas isn’t enough to encourage students to join the trend, free registration for bicycles and several hundred bike racks around campus provide other great incentives. For those who prefer to store their bikes, lockers are available for a $20 annual fee.

The University’s Parking and Transportation Department is working toward a sustainable campus in many other ways as well, including using bio-diesel fuels for campus shuttles and subsidizing public transport for faculty and students. Sagebiel hopes that students keep up their enthusiasm for green transportation beyond the end of Bike Month.

“I have had a long and sometimes successful career of working to ‘green’ my lifestyle in many ways,” Sagebiel said. “We are trying to promote and encourage that all over campus, and bicycles are a great start.”


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