Bicycle Friendly University

On Nov. 9, the University of Tennessee was recognized as a bronze-level Bicycle-Friendly University (BFU) by the League of American Bicyclists. According to the League, the program “recognizes institutions of higher education for promoting and providing a more bikeable campus for students, staff and visitors.” 

 

On Nov. 9, the University of Tennessee was recognized as a bronze-level Bicycle Friendly University (BFU) by the League of American Bicyclists. According to the League, the program “recognizes institutions of higher education for promoting and providing a more bikeable campus for students, staff and visitors.”

The organization focuses not only on how campuses are engineered to promote bicycle use, but also the effort by which they promote bicycle use through education in the campus community. Initiatives often include cycling classes and encouraging biking in the community through accessibility in equipment, services or bike share programs.

Associate Professor in the department of Kinesiology, Recreation and Sports Studies, Dr. Eugene Fitzhugh, spoke on the benefits that BFUs have on student life.

“The recognition of being a Bicycle-Friendly University is great, but by applying, it provides the university of what we can do better to prompt cycling and active living among students, faculty and staff. Cycling either for transportation or leisure-time is a physical activity that promotes physical, social and mental health,” Fitzhugh said.

Perhaps one of the most significant benefits biking poses to UT is its potential to resolve the level of transportation complications that students and faculty often experience. Hardly a day goes by on the UT campus without parking complaints on Rocky Top. The solution might just be to get pedaling.

No parking permit is required to secure your bicycle on rack, and there is certainly no designation between commuter, non-commuter and staff bike racks. The racks are open for students to take advantage of all day everyday.

The environmental impact of biking also cannot be ignored. Josh Elder, the Coordinator for Outdoor Pursuits, spoke on how UT’s bicycle-friendly designation is a shift towards sustainability and environmental favorability on campus.

“When looking at cycling as an alternative to driving, it’s a pretty simple equation: More bikes equal less daily pollution. However, in order to get more people biking there needs to be a certain amount of support from us at UT. This designation recognizes that level of support and acknowledges that we are providing resources for a more sustainable lifestyle. It also helps draw some attention to the fact that cycling around campus is an option for those who might have not thought it was,” Elder said. “This is an outside organization saying, ‘Hey, UT is doing good to promote cycling on and off campus. Go UT!’”

The League also provides feedback for ways in which UT can continue to work towards higher designations. UT is currently recognized as a bronze-level BFU. However, the goal is to reach gold.

Fitzhugh spoke on the Bicycle Advisory Committee’s (BAC) intentions to develop the biking culture in the future, looking at the standards for becoming a silver and gold BFU campus.

“Certainly, we are looking at improving bike culture on campus on our way to higher standards. We certainly have room to improve as we engage more people within the UTK community to embrace cycling as an alternate form of transportation,” Fitzhugh said.

Prime biking areas on campus range from the Students Promoting Environmental Action in Knoxville’s gardens by sorority village to the path along the Tennessee River and even the various biking lanes throughout campus, Market Square and the Old City.

In addition to biking on campus developing and improving, there are a multitude of organizations in the greater Knoxville area that make biking an ideal mode of socializing, working out and transportation. From the Appalachian Mountain Bike Club to the BikeWalk Knoxville and I Bike Knox, students can pedal all the way to the city limits and then some.

Biking culture on Rocky Top is on the rise as circumstances continue to improve, providing students with benefits ranging from a faster way to get around Knoxville, physical and mental health benefits to financial convenience.

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(1) comment

mau66

Fantastic news! Thank you to everyone who made this possible!!

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