Colorado State University bike culture goes platinum

Nicole Towne

With over 10 miles of bike paths and nearly 24,000 bikes registered on campus, biking is a part of Colorado State University’s daily dynamic as well as its culture. Now, CSU has a title to prove it.

The Bicycle Friendly University Program awarded CSU with a platinum status Nov. 5, which is the most prestigious.The program, created by the League of American Bicyclists, evaluates universities across the nation on their bike friendliness. This year, 127 universities in 42 states were evaluated. CSU is one of five universities nationwide to receive the highest designation of platinum. Alongside CSU is Stanford, Portland State University, the University of Minnesota and the University of California Davis. Fort Collins was already rated platinum for bike-friendliness — it is now one of three cities to also house a university of the same status.

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The Bicycle Friendly University program had their first evaluations in 2011 when CSU participated and received a silver designation. Universities apply for evaluation and get judged by the five e’s: engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement and evaluation and planning. This covers a variety of aspects, ranging from the physical construction and organization of trails to instructing bikers of riding rules and creating a plan to fit the growing and changing needs of the University.

A bicyclist rides near the lagoon on the CSU campus. (Photo by: Cisco Mora)
A bicyclist rides near the lagoon on the CSU campus. (Photo by: Cisco Mora)

Prior to submitting to this year’s Bicycle Friendly University Program, the alternative transportation team, in conjunction with organizations across the University, created a master bike plan. The plan mapped out current infrastructure and outlined future projects for bike trail improvement.

“Platinum doesn’t mean perfect,” said Alternative Transportation Manager Aaron Fodge. “We need to do more. There’s a lot to do.”

The plan lists over 30 projects that the alternative transportation team is planning to carry out in the near future. Examples include creating bike lanes so riders can legally travel both east and west on the one-way W. Pitkin St. and creating a bike-crossing light at Pitkin and Springfield Streets. There are currently 15,000 bike parking spaces, and by 2017 CSU is planning to reach 18,000. There is also talk of creating covered bike parking, Fodge said.

CSU is a leader in bike data collection, Fodge said. Part of this comes from in-ground counting systems, but also from the work of student Rambassadors. Rambassadors collect data on how students are traveling to class, record how various bike and longboard racks are being utilized and educate the public about safe cycling behaviors.

“I (became) a Rambassador the first semester the program was created starting in August of 2014,” senior natural resources major Hannah Gregory wrote in an e-mail to the Collegian. “I wanted to become involved because alternative transportation is very important to me. I wanted to help show students and employees at CSU that alternative transportation is easy and how beneficial it is to an individual, a community, and the environment as a whole.”

A bicyclist rides his bike with no handlebars. (Photo by: Cisco Mora)
A bicyclist rides his bike with no handlebars. (Photo by: Cisco Mora)

Members of the alternative transportation team said they aim to make biking on campus beneficial for both the school and the students — It provides exercise, is earth-friendly and requires less area to be devoted to parking lots.

“There needs to be some sort of way for people to get to their classes and riding bikes is a really fast way, environmentally friendly and doesn’t require money for transportation,” said freshman engineering student Michael Samelson.

Reaching the platinum status was a joint effort across campus, involving over 10 organizations. “I feel proud to know that my school and my community places such high importance on alternative transportation and safety,” wrote Gregory.

“It is really a privilege that is not realized at a lot of other universities. I think it is inspiring that we can set a trend for other schools across the country to follow.”

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Collegian Reporter Nicole Towne can be reached online at news@collegian.com or via Twitter @nicole_towne21.