The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire has been recognized by the League of American Bicyclists Bicycle Friendly America program for its efforts in bicycle friendliness.
UW-Eau Claire was awarded the bronze distinction as a Bicycle Friendly University. The distinction is valid for four years, from 2013 to 2017. UW-Eau Claire is one of just four universities in the state and 75 nationwide to receive a Bicycle Friendly University designation.
The Bicycle Friendly University program recognizes institutions of higher education for promoting and providing a more bikeable campus for students, faculty, staff and visitors. Each applicant is evaluated based on its efforts to promote bicycling in five primary areas: engineering, encouragement, education, enforcement and evaluation/planning.
"There are many reasons to maintain a bicycle-friendly campus," said Dr. Christina Hupy, associate professor of geography and anthropology and UW-Eau Claire's Sustainability Fellow. "First and foremost, bicycling is great for your health and it is an enjoyable activity. Second, with roughly 11,000 students, more than 1,500 faculty and staff and approximately 3,700 vehicle parking spots on campus, it is a convenient and easy way to get to campus. Not only will you likely get to campus faster by riding your bicycle, you are also doing something good for the environment."
Hupy cited several bicycle-friendly services on campus, including those available through the UW-Eau Claire Environmental Adventure Center, which offers bike rental and lease programs, bike safety and maintenance classes, a repair shop that offers free safety inspections and a variety of bicycling trips. The university also provides bicycle parking to accommodate more than 2,000 bikes.
Bicycling-related sustainability efforts soon will be included in the university's long-term plans.
"UW-Eau Claire has begun to develop a comprehensive bicycle and pedestrian plan for campus," Hupy said. "This plan will be presented to the campus community for input during the spring 2014 semester and then adopted as part of the Campus Master Plan."
A preliminary phase of the plan was implemented this semester, with improvements including the addition of bike "sharrows," or painted markings indicating shared space between bicycles and vehicles on a street; the designation of a bike route around the central lower campus; and the installation of covered bike parking in several locations around campus.
In 2007, UW-Eau Claire signed the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment pledge to take the initiative in reducing greenhouse gases emissions and lower the university's carbon footprint. Providing a bicycle-friendly campus will encourage students, faculty and staff to help in this effort, Hupy said.
Besides Hupy, other key leaders in UW-Eau Claire's bicycle-friendly efforts include Dr. Robert Eierman, professor of chemistry; Lynn Peterson, assistant director for operations in Facilities Management; and two seniors from the Student Office of Sustainability: environmental public health and biology double major Gregory Nelson, and psychology and organizational communication double major Emy Marier.
"Together we have been working to make biking to campus an easier transportation choice," said Nelson, who is the director of the Student Office of Sustainability. "An important component of the certification process is having organizations already in place that advocate for bikers, and the SOS has been doing that."
Other groups that have assisted with these efforts include the university administration, Facilities Management, Parking and Transportation, Campus Police, the Putnam Park Commission, and Housing and Residence Life.
For more information about UW-Eau Claire's bicycle-friendly initiatives, contact Dr. Christina Hupy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 715-836-3313.