Pedal power

UChicago's Office of Sustainability makes biking on campus a priority.

Boyer.jpgThe University's Office of Sustainability has already made its opinion on bicycling known: it's kind of an awesome—and environmentally friendly—alternative to driving to campus, where there's limited parking. September 2009 marked the launch of the office's ReCycles program, which provides 22 free bikes for students, faculty, and staff to check out and use.

This week marks Chicago's 20th Bike to Work Week (organized by the Active Transportation Alliance), and the sustainability office is coordinating the University's participation, advertising on University Web sites and spreading the word around campus. Although the office doesn't have stats yet on how many UChicago people are trading their cars for bikes, 12 University departments have registered—the highest number of any participating university, says Katie Anson, administrative assistant to the associate vice president and University architect. By the end of the week, the team leaders for each department will submit the information to the alliance. The teams that have the most members bike to work at least once win prizes from event sponsors, which include Goose Island Brewery, Caribou Coffee, and Village Cycle Center.

UChiBLOGo spoke to Anson about cycling on campus:

QandA_QDrop.jpgHow many people ride their bikes to or around campus on a regular basis?
QandA_ADrop.jpgAccording to a transportation study conducted in 2005, on average 1,000 people commute to campus via bicycle. User registration for ReCycles has been growing exponentially. There are now more than 700 registered users, and on average there are nearly 100 check-out transactions per week.
QandA_QDrop.jpgWhat is the most bizarre bike you've seen on campus?
QandA_ADrop.jpgWe haven’t seen any bizarre bikes around campus, but we do get excited when we see students, staff, and faculty riding around on the refurbished ReCycles bikes. We have seen ReCycles bikes on the lakefront path, and someone has reported a ReCycles bike sighting downtown on the "L"!
QandA_QDrop.jpgI know it's early, but what kinds of feedback have you gotten so far from staff, faculty, and students about the event?
QandA_ADrop.jpgWe have received positive responses about the event, primarily from University staff. People have expressed interest and enthusiasm, particularly those who already bike or who have been considering biking. We are really excited by the amount of interest expressed on campus about Bike to Work Week. Alternative transportation, along with recycling and sustainable food options, is an issue that has a lot of traction in our sustainability program. We’re happy to provide opportunities to commute on two wheels.

Ruthie Kott, AM'07

Dean of the College John Boyer, AM'69, PhD'75, hops on his bike during Alumni Weekend. Photography by Dan Dry

June 16, 2010