Editor’s note: Like Humans of New York’s “daily glimpses into the lives of strangers on the streets,” Humans of CSU tells the stories of the people who populate our campus. Written by Collegian staff and told in first person from the subject’s point of view, this series aims to make each individual on campus relatable.
Instead of an engineering profession where they expand the roads and make the road bigger so more cars can go through, my job is to optimize the infrastructure that we have to move the most people that we can. This job is about saving money, not spending money. Trying to save people money in terms of how they travel. Carpool, where you save money on your fuel and insurance. Transit — same thing — you’re not using your personal car. Biking, you’re saving money because it’s your bike — it’s a lot cheaper than your car. You’re also getting fitness in the day.
When they hired me, I was pretty ecstatic. I love the fact that it’s in my home community. It’s a two-mile bike ride to work. I get to ride through the heart of campus every day with the 7,000 students going through Braiden — that’s my ride too. My first three, four months, I laid out a plan. I got some really good advice from my colleagues who said, “Learn the grapevine and how things work, and make sure you have a really strong relationship with the students because they’ll support you if it’s something they believe in.”
The first week on the job, the first thing I did was set up a bi-weekly meeting with ASCSU, which has continued since I’ve been here, and then I went around campus and I conducted over 100 interviews. I went across campus and just anybody and everybody that I could meet and ask them about how they wanted transportation to improve on campus. I heard things that I did not think I was going to hear. And one of the resounding things I heard was, “I don’t feel safe on campus.”
People want to feel safe. When I got the job, I didn’t think that’s where I was going to have to spend my time. I thought I was going to focus on better infrastructure for trails and bikes, getting the employee programs in place so that we can help people. And no, it was, we have to focus on safety and defining how we navigate the campus. So things like way-finding, signage, things that make our trails and our paths and our streets more predictable, because that’s what people were telling me.
This is a huge school, thousands of employees, tens of thousands of students and everyone has a different story about their daily commute. Some people have two kids and two parents that work, and they’ve got to drop their kids off on the way to the University and then they have to get there by a certain time. The next person is maybe a senior and is looking to stay fit and is maybe looking to ride their bike to the University. It’s all over the place. Some can’t afford to live in Fort Collins, so they live outside of Fort Collins.
My job is to balance all of those different unique needs and make sure we have services to help them get here. You need to be able to work and facilitate groups to come to a decision they feel good about, because if people feel forced to do something, like “I’m forced to take transit,” or “I’m forced to ride my bike,” or “I’m forced to carpool,” that’s not going to work in the long run. They have to feel like this is part of their life in how they travel and how they make decisions.
I love the work because I know at the end of the day that I’m helping people. I’m helping them save money, I’m helping them stay fit, I’m helping them spend more time with their family. If we can get them home quicker, that’s more time with their family. People value that. I know I’m helping the University too, because if we can convince people to travel in a different way, we can put our resources somewhere else.
Public service is not for everybody. If you’re in public service, you want to help people. You are right there in wanting to help. You need to find reward in helping people, and I definitely do that.
Collegian staff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.