Campus to provide additional resources for bikers
October 2, 2008
An increase in bicycles on the UW-River Falls campus has caught the attention of the University and has resulted in allocation of funding for new bike facilities.
Within six months the University plans to incorporate additional “improved” bike racks for student bikers. Along with the new racks, paths on campus will be widened to improve traffic flow, Assistant Director of Grounds Maintenance Manny Kenney said.
The University will be trying a “pilot” program at the beginning of fall semester. Students will be assigned bike lockers to store their bikes during the winter, Julie Phelps, assistant director of residence life, facilities and administrative services, said.
$15,000 was spent last year replacing the old bike racks with the newer, sturdier U-style racks. The new racks more effectively accommodate bikers as they allow for easier tethering to the bike frame. The new racks cost $500 each and the money is allocated from the school’s state budget money. The University plans on adding new racks to Karges and Hagested before winter, Kenney said.
A new pilot program going into effect next semester will allow ten student bikers a unique opportunity. The program will allow ten bikers to store their bikes in hard fiberglass bike lockers. The program aims at discovering whether students would use the lockers. If the program is successful the University may create permanent bike lockers that could be rented to students on a semester basis, Phelps said.
The campus will be increasing the width of select paths around campus as well. The main arterial east to west path, which runs from South Fork Suites in front of the University Center and ends at the west end of campus near Hagested, is of primary concern. The paths will be widened from eight to 12 feet to better accommodate bike and pedestrian traffic, Kenney said.
“The paths can get congested but pathing is decent considering that the University can’t tell people where to walk,” student biker Tim Drallmeier said. “The lighting on campus is good. It’s dark coming from the north until I get on campus.”
The grounds-keeping staff clears off pathways on campus when they become obstructed by weather. The paths are cleared on a “set of priority” system, Kenney said. The emergency vehicle routes are cleared first, then the primary east to west path, and out from there. The paths should be cleared by the time classes start in anything but heavy snowstorms, Kenney said.
Biking is an integral part of the campus and greater community and is a healthy activity.
“I believe bikes on campus are important and very practical as long as people use them practically, safely and respectfully, on or off campus,” Public Safety Director Richard Trende, said. “A few safety precautions bikers should consider are: learn hand signals and use them, wear appropriate reflections and lighting along with rear view mirrors and helmet, think and ride defensively.”.
Biking is an excellent way to achieve the 30 minutes of physical activity we require each day, Alice Reilly-Myklebust, director of student health services, said.
The financial burden to the University is minimal compared to the benefits, Trende said.
“I feel empowered when I’m riding,” Teresa Aviles, a student biker said, “I’m not pumping gas, I’m pumping my heart.”