Top 7 Most Bike-Friendly Campuses

Campuses range in size drastically and usually depend on the size and population of the student body itself. For those at bigger universities, campus buildings are often widely spread apart, and students can find themselves walking nearly a mile to their next class. Many schools do offer bus options to help students move in between classes more quickly, but from my experience and the experiences of those around me, these bus routes can often be confusing and unreliable.

Perhaps the most common alternative to walking and campus bus transportation is driving. But there are very few campuses with easily accessible (or affordable) parking options. And with gas prices rising unexpectedly as well as the cost of maintenance, a car isn’t necessarily an affordable option for many college students.

It may seem as though students would be left with no option but to walk all that way, but many times there is a simpler solution: bicycles. Biking can be a great option for getting somewhere quicker and cheaper. However, not all campuses are set up to be easily or safely navigated on a bike. Some campuses are much more bike-friendly, and here those efforts are not going unnoticed.

Ditch the Car and Hop on a Bike Instead

Before we dive into spotlighting those schools that have the most bike-friendly campuses, it’s important to note why this is even something to be applauding. As previously mentioned, biking can be a better option over walking to get somewhere more easily and more quickly (especially if you’re one of the unlucky ones with only 10 minutes in between classes). But there are additional benefits of bicycling on campus as well.

To start, bikes are very environmentally friendly. Of course, so is walking, but bicycling is a quicker option that still doesn’t pollute the environment, such as driving or taking a bus. Why not enjoy the fresh air, all while still not harming it?

Another perk of hopping on a bike is the added benefit of exercise. According to research, the average sized person riding at moderate effort can burn up to 650 calories per hour. As college students, it’s hard to find the time, motivation, or energy to fit in an extra workout during the day, so why not make it part of your daily routine?

And, in addition to saving the environment and your beach body, biking can help you can save your money too. Once you buy a bike, which can usually be found used for very affordable prices, they typically require little investment post-purchase. Overall, bicycles can be a great option for many students, but of course, biking has a few risks too.

Be Aware of These Downsides to Bikes

One of the most prominent issues with biking is safety concerns. Biking on its own leads to safety issues, as it requires balance and utilizes speed that could lead to accidents and injuries, not only for yourself but others around you as well.

Plus, if you’re biking on a large campus, it is especially likely that you may encounter others on the roads: cars, buses, pedestrians, and even other bikers, which can be possible threats to your safety. Therefore, proper safety gear, such as a helmet, should be worn, and special caution should be taken to protect yourself from things and people around you.

Another common bike issue, especially on college campuses, is theft. Bikes can be stolen a bit easier than say, a car. Even more common is the theft of bike parts, such as bike seats and chains that are fairly easy to remove and often stolen by petty-theft criminals looking for parts to sell or even to add to their own bikes. So be sure to consider using a bike lock when parking your bike on campus, or anywhere else for that matter.

Despite these risks, bikes typically require much less maintenance when compared to other types of transportation. To help with many of these concerns, many campuses have specific bike rules and regulations to protect bikers and pedestrians from harm and bicycles from being stolen.

The Most Bike-Friendly College Campuses

Clearly, there are definite pros and cons of biking on campus. But for many students biking is definitely an option to be considered, and there are many campuses making an effort to be more bicycle-friendly. The League of American Bicyclists has created a list of the most bicycle-friendly universities based on schools that have supported biking on campus through forming bike share programs, bike co-ops, clubs, bicycling education classes, and biking policies.

Most Bicycle Friendly Campuses- GOLD by Katy Tripses

The League created the Bicycle Friendly University Program, which evaluates universities in five areas:

  • Engineering
  • Encouragement
  • Education
  • Enforcement
  • Evaluation and planning

These “5 E’s” are what healthy, sustainable, higher living institutions should strive to embody when growing the biking population on their campus. The organization recognizes that not every campus will be able to fully implement all changes necessary to be a gold standard biking-friendly campus; so it awards those campuses who have made an effort to create a safer environment for bikers.

Most Bike Friendly Campuses: Silver Award

University Name State
University of Alaska Fairbanks Alaska
University of Arkansas Arkansas
Florida State University Florida
University of Florida Florida
University of South Florida Florida
Emory University Georgia
Loyola University Chicago Illinois
Northwestern University Illinois
School of the Art Institute of Chicago Illinois
University of Illinois at Chicago Illinois
Purdue University Indiana
Morehead State University Kentucky
Louisiana State University Louisiana
Grand Valley State University Michigan
University of Michigan – Flint Michigan
Macalester College Minnesota
Lees-McRae College North Carolina
Duke University North Carolina
North Carolina State University North Carolina
Southern Oregon University Oregon
Pennsylvania State University Pennsylvania
Virginia Commonwealth University Virginia

Most Bike-Friendly Campuses: Bronze Award

University Name State
Arizona State University – West Campus Arizona
Hendrix College Arkansas
San Francisco State University California
Naropa University Colorado
University of Miami Florida
University of Georgia Georgia
Southern Illinois University Illinois
University of Illinois Springfield Illinois
Emporia State University Kansas
University of Kansas Kansas
Bentley University Massachusetts
Boston University Medical Campus Massachusetts
Lawrence Technological University Michigan
Concordia College Minnesota
Truman State University Missouri
Monroe Community College New York
State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry New York
The College at Brockport – State University of New York New York
Appalachian State university North Carolina
Kent State University Ohio
University of Toledo Ohio
University of Wisconsin – Stout Wisconsin

The League believes strongly in the importance of incorporating biking in high-density areas like campuses, and many of the universities are thankful for their help in making it happen.

According to Chad Larsen, the  Manager of Commuter Services at the University of Utah, “The application gave us ideas how we can improve bicycling on campus. We will be addressing our bicycle subcommittee making sure we have all departments represented. We appreciate the recognition, so we can influence administration for future funding.”

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