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IU awarded silver level, bicycle-friendly university



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Bikes park outside of Franklin Hall on Wednesday afternoon. IU was recently designated as a silver level, bicycle-friendly university by the League of American Bicyclists. Emily Eckelbarger Buy Photos

IU was recently designated as a silver level bicycle-friendly university by the League of American Bicyclists.

IU is one of 54 silver level bicycle-friendly universities around the United States out of a total 182 bicycle-friendly universities around the country. The award recognizes universities for promoting and providing a more bikeable campus.

“This latest class of Bicycle Friendly University awardees show a wonderful commitment to safety, health and sustainability through their efforts to support bicycling on campus,” said Amelia Neptune, director of the league’s Bicycle Friendly America Program on its website.

The last time the University received an award from the League of American Bicyclists was in 2011 when it achieved a bronze designation.

The goal of achieving a more bicycle-friendly campus comes from the 2015 Bicycle Master Plan, published by the University. The document lists five goals to be completed by 2025, including increasing ridership, addressing bicycle infrastructure and improving the convenience of bicycling.

The University originally outlined a plan for gold designation by 2025, but Kevin Whited, IU Bloomington's transportation demand management coordinator and bicycle manager, said in a press release IU will be eligible to apply for gold designation in 2019.

Currently, 20 universities are listed as gold level bicycle-friendly universities and only five are listed at the platinum level.

They were able to achieve the silver designation through improving infrastructure, Whited said. He said that projects like the bike lane next to the IU Auditorium were important. Whited has also worked with the city to get bicycle counters, which use magnetic tubes embedded in the road, to count the number of bicycles that go by at various spots around campus. This helps the University keep track of the amount of people using bicycles and bicycle lanes.

"To you and I, especially if you're a bike rider, you don't really think about it too much but those are really big projects," Whited said. "They're relatively expensive and they do have a decent impact. ."

Whited was hired as bicycle manager in July 2016.

The League of American Bicyclists evaluates universities based on engineering, encouragement, education, enforcement and evaluation/planning.

Steve Taylor, a spokesperson from the League of American Bicyclists, said its application questions cover both bike-theft prevention and the campus police department’s outreach to students such as distribution of bike-theft deterrent information.

The League of American Bicyclists specifically mentions the university bike police at IU on its website under its resources for how to build a bicycle-friendly university.

However, nowhere in the IU Bicycle Master Plan is bike theft prevention specifically mentioned. Whited said he hopes to take steps toward preventing bike theft by upping campus bike registration.

IU saw an increase in bike theft at the beginning of the semester. Bike theft has since decreased. In October, 13 bikes were reported stolen by the IU Police Department. As of Nov. 26, seven bikes have been reported stolen in November. 

Currently, it is optional for students to register their bikes for a fee of $10. This gives riders a sticker so registered bikers can be identified. Whited said the Office of Parking Operations is considering partnering with either 529 Garage or Bike Index to make recovering stolen bikes easier.

Both organizations allow users to register their bikes for free. When they are stolen, the bike is put into its respective databases so bike shops and police across the state or country can keep an eye out for it. If a bike is stolen in Bloomington, it might show up at a bike shop in Indianapolis.

“Say your bike got stolen,” Whited said. “You can jump on Twitter and say ‘hey @bikeindex my bike was just stolen.’ When you do that it notifies us but it also sends out a tweet to all the bike shops of whoever is following it. They will see that this guy's bike just got stolen and this is what it looks like, keep your eyes open if anybody walks in to try and sell it."

Whited also said he is mapping bike racks on campus to help the Office of Parking Operations figure out where more bike racks are needed.

Whited said to move up to the gold designation, implementation of the proposed bike share program and creating a student advocacy group for biking would be helpful.

“They would promote bicycle safety and work with me or administration to get more bicycle infrastructure put on campus,” Whited said. “We don't have anything like that now.”

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