Roll on: USC named Bicycle Friendly University
By Megan Sexton, firstname.lastname@example.org, 803-777-5400
Since she was a freshman, Victoria Kmiec wanted a bicycle to ride to classes on the University of South Carolina Columbia campus. But the thought of spending upwards of $200 on a bike held her back.
Enter the University of South Carolina’s Abandoned Bike Project sponsored by the Office of Outdoor Recreation. The office collects bicycles left unclaimed on campus at the end of each semester, repairs them and offers them to students, faculty and staff – cheap. The new bike owners attend an educational workshop on topics from basic bike repairs to the rules of the road.
For Kmiec, a senior chemical engineering student, the project has her rolling – on a formerly abandoned blue-and-white mountain bike she bought for $20. She got the bike in February and cycles from her off-campus apartment to USC every day.
“Sustainability is a big part of my life. I like to take old things and make them new. And the fact that we salvaged these bikes makes it even better,” said Kmiec, who is from Louisville, Ky. “Riding a bike is such a better alternative than driving. It gives students the opportunity to save money and I think it cuts down on traffic and parking problems. And we’re not putting as much carbon into the atmosphere, which is important to me.”
The Abandoned Bike Project is just one of the reasons USC was named a Bicycle Friendly University at the bronze level Wednesday (March 28) by the League of American Bicyclists. USC is the only school in South Carolina and the Southeastern Conference to receive the designation. The program recognizes colleges for promoting and providing a bicycle-friendly campus for students, staff and visitors. USC won the designation also for excelling in its master bike plan created by Sustainable Carolina’s transportation team, its future initiatives and the diversity of its bike advisory committee.
“We’re leading the way with bike-friendly cultures and campuses in the South,” said Katie Coley, director of Outdoor Recreation. “Not only is biking a great, sustainable activity, but it’s a great way to encourage students toward healthy lifestyles.”
Jerry Brewer, associate vice president for student affairs, said making the campus bicycle-friendly helps the university in all sorts of ways.
“It makes the campus more accessible for students who bicycle on or around campus, it gives them a great opportunity for exercise and the chance to be outside, and it makes the campus greener. Students on bicycles don’t need access to parking garages or parking lots, they don’t need cars with emissions. There’s a wonderful environmental opportunity there.”
He also said the recycled bicycle program keeps old, unused bicycles out of landfills and provides bicycles to people who may not otherwise have access to them.
And once they get those bicycles, riders are able to glide through a campus that is committed to providing more bicycle lanes, increased educational opportunities and better bike storage.
“The road system has been developed over many years and it’s a challenge to get it to the point where we want it to be,” Brewer said. “But making the campus more bicycle-friendly is included in all the planning and it’s something we always think about.”
For example, when plans were being developed for the Strom Thurmond Wellness and Fitness Center, it was important to make sure the bridges over Assembly and Blossom streets did not have steps – making them bicycle-friendly, he said.
At USC, the bike advisory committee is a team of students, faculty and staff from Sustainable Carolina, Outdoor Recreation, Healthy Carolina, Law Enforcement and Safety, USC Vehicle Management and Parking Services plus other students, faculty and staff members who are avid and passionate bicyclists. The committee spent a majority of the fall semester working on the Bike Friendly University application and planning future initiatives.
“Biking actually has joined together so much of the USC community,” Coley said.
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