November 29, 2016

SIU earns ‘Bicycle Friendly University’ designation

by Christi Mathis

Shelby OrrCARBONDALE, Ill. -- For the first time, Southern Illinois University Carbondale has earned recognition as a “Bicycle Friendly University” from the League of American Bicyclists.

The recognition was announced today (Nov. 29) and the designation is valid for four years. The Bicycle Friendly University program recognizes universities and colleges that provide bicycle-friendly environments through campus policies, bicycling education and share programs, clubs and more. To earn the designation, a university must submit an application detailing how the campus promotes bicycling through engineering, encouragement, education, enforcement and evaluation (planning.) The criteria are designed to assure that those recognized have taken steps to assure bicycling is safe, convenient and comfortable as a means of transportation and recreation.

“This designation recognizes one of the ways our students, faculty and staff are working together to make our campus more sustainable,” Geory Kurtzhals, sustainability coordinator, said. “Bicycling is a smart decision from an economic, environmental and health perspective and exemplifies what sustainability is all about. We are very proud of this designation.”

Support from SIU’s Green Fund enabled Shelby Orr, a senior architectural studies student from Savoy, to create a bicycle survey for the entire campus in 2015. This year, the Green Fund provided $2,800 toward the cost of creating a bicycle master plan. Under the guidance of Shannon McDonald, Orr’s faculty adviser and an assistant professor of architecture, and with assistance from the Bicycle Master Plan Committee, Orr is creating a bicycle plan for the campus. In addition, Orr was instrumental in submitting the bicycle-friendly designation application.

“Shelby has worked tirelessly on this designation and bike plan. Her work is building a foundation for campus bicycling for years to come. It will serve to make our campus even more attractive to the growing number of students who are concerned about reducing their carbon footprint,” Kurtzhals said.

The SIU Bicycle Plan sets forth a framework for biking on campus during the next few decades and addresses challenges bicyclists could encounter on campus as well as the basic SIU bicycling infrastructure, Orr said. The plan also incorporates the blueprint for a new SIU bicycling webpage, bicycle safety and education information, research about bicycle- and car-sharing programs and special events.

The Green Fund, which is supported by a student fee, also covered the cost of installing Saluki Spokes Service Stations in 2015 at seven locations across campus, providing bicyclists with the tools necessary for basic repairs and maintenance. SIU also has a cycling club, numerous bicycle racks and paths which cyclists and walkers share, as well as other amenities that promote and facilitate bicycling.

SIU is one 164 institutions of higher learning across the country to win the Bicycle Friendly University award for 2016. The university achieved the bronze level designation.