Transportation in Auburn

Post contributed by Brandy Ezelle, Traffic Engineer and Bicycle Coordinator for the City of Auburn

When most people think about transportation, they think of cars and trucks, and maybe even trains and planes. Unfortunately, they don’t often consider the non-motorized modes of walking and bicycling as valid forms of transportation. The City of Auburn is working to change that.

Photo of Group at Bike Month Proclamation
A group of citizens gather with Mayor Ham in recognition of Bike Month.

The City of Auburn has been designated a Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists since 2000.  This distinction is due in part to our network of more than 35 miles of dedicated bicycle facilities. Although our bicycle network is still under construction, you can navigate to almost anywhere in town utilizing bicycle facilities and low-speed, low-volume roads or sidewalks.

There are many benefits that make walking and bicycling a rewarding way to travel.  You can improve your health, reduce traffic congestion, minimize your carbon footprint, and save money all at the same time. For me personally, the most significant benefit is improved health.

I’ve always been an active person, but with a family, a full-time job, and other commitments, it’s difficult to find the time for exercise. My five-and- a-half mile commute to work typically takes 15 minutes by car.  By bike, it takes only 10 extra minutes.  By riding my bicycle to work and from work, I get 50 minutes of cardiovascular exercise while only taking 20 minutes out of my normal routine. Incorporating exercise into my daily commute actually frees up time I can spend with my family instead of at the gym.

Even so, making the decision to commute by bicycle is a daunting prospect for many. They see and recognize the benefits, but just can’t figure out how to get started. Fortunately, there are opportunities in Auburn to help you make the shift from four wheels to two.

For people who do not own a bicycle, you can borrow one from the City absolutely free and use it as your own. You can even take it on some of the weekly group rides to become better acquainted with Auburn’s streets and where to ride. Once you’re ready to challenge yourself, use the City’s Bicycle Routing Tool to help determine your best route. As a cyclist, you don’t always follow the same routes that you would by car because you may want to utilize bicycle facilities, bypass high-speed roads, avoid traffic, or maybe just steer clear that big hill! This September, the War Eagle Bike Share currently used on campus will be expanded throughout the City of Auburn, giving you even more free ways to travel by bicycle.

Logo for Travel with Care
Do you know your #IntersectionInteractions?

Safety is one of the most significant concerns for many would-be commuters.  The City of Auburn and Auburn University work together to educate all road users through the joint initiative Travel With Care.  Each year, this transportation safety campaign addresses common transportation issues that cause the most accidents.  This year’s campaign concentrates on smart, safe #IntersectionInteractions and will take place September 8-15. Between cars, bicyclists and pedestrians, staking your claim on the street is an ongoing battle. But it shouldn’t be. Instead of focusing on what other people should do, know what YOU need to do to be a responsible traveler.

Auburn is a great place to call home. Compared to bigger cities like Birmingham, Atlanta, or New Orleans, our streets are safe and navigable for all modes of transportation. So next time you think about going to the park, campus, or downtown to eat or shop, consider taking a walk or ride. It may take an extra five or ten minutes, but think about the impact that choice can have on your wellbeing, including the reduced stress of fighting traffic jams and parking problems. Live it up, enjoy life, and take a walk or ride to your destination.

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Parking Services Provides New Transportation Services to Combat Current Climate Issues

Post contributed by Parking Services

A student uses one of the 150 War Eagle Bike Share bikes.

While the climate may not be at the forethought of everyone at Auburn University, Parking Services Director Don Andrae is in a position to identify problems with on campus transportation and implement creative solutions to better serve the Auburn Family and help the environment. One program that was introduced last year is the War Eagle Bike Share which provides free bicycle rental access to anyone with a smartphone. Our program utilized so much that we added more bikes and hubs during the summer to bring a total of 150 rentable bikes and 20 new hubs throughout the City of Auburn. With 3,000 registered bicycles on Auburn’s campus each year, we estimate 1,500 will be left at the end of the spring semester because students do not want them. “A lot of them (students) are not bikers; they just buy it to get around campus and that’s what this program is designed for –the ability to use the bikes when you need them” said Andrae. To learn more about our War Eagle Bike Share program, visit Sustainability’s feature blog post about our program to download the app and start riding today!

This summer we also reevaluated the available parking on Magnolia Street and South College Street as we have several academic buildings being constructed on this side of campus. In an effort to maximize the available spaces for employees whom work within these buildings, we have diligently worked in conjunction with Tiger Transit to provide a new shuttle service, the Employee Express. This free service is provided Monday through Friday when the University is operational with two fixed routes –Eagle and Tiger. With both routes we are able to ensure employees arrive at their destination in a timely manner while also reducing the number of vehicles operating on the North side of campus. This new program will decrease the amount of vehicles which results in a reduction of carbon gas that is emitted. We have listed the specific routes, the service phone number, as well as GPS coordinates to the West One parking lot where the shuttles pick-up employees on our website.

Graphic of War Eagle Express
With the War Eagle Express program, students can catch a quick ride to on-campus residence halls, dining venues, and parking lots.

One final new program we have implemented this year is an after-hours shuttle service for students that is free and will stop at on-campus residence halls, dining venues and student parking lots. The War Eagle Express carts are battery powered which does not add to the carbon gas that is emitted from traditional vehicles and further reduces the amount of vehicle traffic on roads surrounding campus. With this service students do not have to move their personal vehicles after 5:00 p.m. in order to access academic buildings after-hours to continue their academic achievements. Now they can dial the on-call number (855) 446-8242 and give the dispatcher their location on-campus and one of our War Eagle Express rides will pick them up and drop-off at one of the student parking lots! By reducing the number of cars moving after-hours on-campus in addition to the battery powered carts, we are eliminating carbon gas emitted from traditional vehicles and traffic congestion around campus while also providing our students a safe way to access campus after 5:00 p.m.

With the War Eagle Bike Share program, Employee Express shuttle service and War Eagle Express program, Parking Services at Auburn University is continually searching for unique solutions to daily problems that are experienced by the Auburn Family when accessing our campus while keeping in mind ways to reduce our impact on our planet and climate. For more information about any of our described programs, or questions about our department please feel free to contact our office by phone at (334) 844-4143, or email parking@auburn.edu. We also provide a free download to our Guidebook by searching “Parking Services” on the Auburn Guides app to receive up-to-date information from our department.

War Eagle!

 

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Sustainability in Action: Jeff LaMondia

Post contributed by Hallie Nelson, Office of Sustainability Intern

Photo of Jeff LaMondia
Jeff gives a talk at Auburn’s Bike to Work event.

How did you get to your office or class today? Most people have a morning commute route that doesn’t change much from day-to-day. I know I do. I travel straight down Opelika Road, turn onto Glenn, and head toward Donahue. Along the way, I pass Tiger Transit riders, walkers, and bikers who share the same routes I do. This concept of one roadway serving multiple modes of transportation is the focus of Dr. Jeff LaMondia, a professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at Auburn.

“Transportation is the key that links societal wellbeing, equity, economic development, and urban growth,” according to Jeff. He has been able to work at this intersection of the sustainability compass for his entire career, starting with an undergraduate “Rail to Trail” project at the University of Connecticut. Next, he moved to Austin, Texas, where he continued to study and get excited about cycling and other alternate modes of transportation. He says it has been a privilege to turn a topic he got excited about as an undergraduate student into a career.

Jeff’s goal while working on a project is to design a system that works now, while also having the foresight to support the needs of future populations without limiting them. This includes concepts of equity, nature, and wellbeing for the road users. Equity is addressed through providing transportation options for users that do not own cars or cannot drive; pollution is avoided by providing clean transportation options; and wellbeing is achieved through designing streets that encourage walking and biking.

As an avid cyclist, much of Jeff’s work focuses on improving perceptions about cycling. The Alabama Department of Transportation (DOT) is funding his research on changing behaviors and interactions on the roads. It is important to understand the interactions between cars and bikes in order to create safe road conditions for everyone. A complete street is designed for all types of users, whether cars, motorcycles, bicycles, or walkers, and their successful design begins with asking how people will use the street and what they are using it for. Using complete streets as a design solution can help improve these interactions.

Alabama is set to become a national leader in sustainable transportation planning. With the support of the DOT and the local leadership in Auburn, Opelika, and Birmingham, a lot of progress will be made. These groups and others are partnering across the state to plan cycling networks, and their work has been presented at the Transportation Research Board Conference. Jeff has enjoyed being a part of all of these exciting projects and says, “Auburn has been an awesome place to start work because of the great relationship with the city.”

Photo of a complete street
Examples of complete street designs can be found around the world, like this one in Dublin, Ireland.

As Alabama emerges as a national leader, some of the foreseeable challenges include cost and leadership. Creating complete streets is a costly project, though it has great returns in improving the transportation system for all users. Alabama looks to overcome the cost limits by retrofitting old streets in residential areas to encourage bikes or transit rides. This will help move the plans forward without having to change the funding a whole lot. Strong leaders will also be needed to push these ideas forward. Jeff believes we have the necessary regional and state motivation to accomplish many projects, including the Metro Planning Organization in Auburn and Opelika.

Of course, one of the most important parts of transportation planning is the user. So, you have a major part in the success of these projects. Jeff suggests opening yourself up to trying new modes of transportation. If you’ve never tried walking from your apartment to campus, tomorrow might be a good day to start. If you’re intimidated by the complexity of Tiger Transit maps, then ask a friend who rides to help you figure out your route and give it a try. You can also become an advocate for these initiatives, even if you aren’t an avid cyclist or transportation engineer like Jeff. He encourages people to help push these initiatives through at the local level, even if you aren’t going to use them yourself because transportation is about building options for everyone to use.

If you are looking to learn more about sustainable transportation, Dr. LaMondia teaches two classes in the Department of Civil Engineering. Geometric Design focuses on designing roadways, and has worked with the City of Auburn to analyze streets that could easily incorporate bike lanes. His Sustainable Multimodal Transportation and Planning course takes a software approach to understand what people want in a transportation system. You can learn to use the software and forecast people’s actions into the future in order to plan a more sustainable city.

From professor at Auburn University to bicycle advocate on various committees, Jeff LaMondia is the type of person that you meet and wonder how he does it all. He has dedicated his career improving the quality for students and residents through transportation solutions. His contributions are a big reason why multimodal transportation is emerging across the state.

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Director’s Corner: The Bicycle: Invented 200 Years Ago & Still Transforming Society

“When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race.” ~H.G. Wells

A drawing of a man on a laufmaschine
A depiction of the Luafmaschine.

A 200th anniversary slid by this summer without much notice for the invention of a taken-for-granted transportation device that changed the world, and today holds world-changing potential for sustainable transportation.

Two hundred years ago, on June 12, 1817, in Mannheim, Germany, Baron Karl von Drais introduced the world’s first bicycle.  It was made of wood and had no pedals, gears, or chains.  He pushed himself along first by one foot and then the other.  He called it a Laufmaschine (running machine in German).

Thanks to rough roads and wooden wheels it was a jarring ride, but a lot faster than walking.  In fact, his first (10-mile) ride took less than an hour and was faster than a local horse-drawn coach.  The press dubbed his invention a “Draisine” after its inventor, and while it was never profitable, the device attracted inventors around the world who tinkered with his ideas.

In the 1860s a big innovation happened that ensured the bicycle would have a successful future: pedals!  Frenchmen Pierre and Ernest Michaux had the bright idea to add pedals to the front wheel.  Ever wonder why early bikes had that funny looking huge-front-wheel-tiny-back-wheel design?  It was because the pedals were attached to the front wheel.

Riders a top of the next iteration of the bicycle, a penny-farthing. (Photo credit: Flikr)

A large front wheel meant that a person could travel farther with one rotation of the pedals.  The bad news was these “penny-farthing” bicycles – the first to be called “bicycles” – were hard to mount and were really bad news for riders when they crashed.

It was barely ten years later when Hans Renold created the roller chain, which is used to this day to transfer power on mechanical devices of all kinds.  The roller chain meant bicycle pedals could be moved from the front wheel, placed directly below a rider sitting between the wheels on equally-sized tires, and whose feet were within reach of the ground.  The bicycle began to look much like one we would ride today.

The bicycle’s contributions to society are varied, plentiful, and well-documented. There is an abundance of scholarly articles about the sustainability of bicycles and cycling.

The bicycle is the only form of alternative transportation that addresses all the environmental liabilities of cars.  Air pollution?  Check.   Bikes in operation are 100% pollution-free.  Noise pollution?  Check.  Bikes are essentially silent.  Energy efficiency?  Check. Bikes are the most energy-efficient mode of transportation on the planet.

Cycling is good for human health and wellbeing. Commuting, cruising the roads, or exploring the great outdoors does wonders for physical health and fitness and can be a magic elixir for mental and emotional wellbeing, too.

Bicycles have also changed society in dramatic ways.  For example, it is not well known that bicycles had a revolutionary impact on the liberation of women.  When the modern bicycle was developed in the late 1800s women were living constrained lives, tied to domestic duties and strictly limited in mobility.  Of the bicycle, activist Susan B. Anthony said, “Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. It has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives a woman a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. The moment she takes her seat, she knows she can’t get into harm unless she gets off her bicycle, and away she goes, the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.” Awesome!

Picture of bike lanes.
Cycling infrastructure in Austin, Texas.

Today, cycling can make a significant contribution to resolving congestion and pollution problems in cities.  A growing number of cities are embracing cycling as a preferred transportation mode, and when cities provide sufficient cycling infrastructure the viability and attractiveness of cycling in urban settings becomes readily apparent.

Copenhagen is the cycling capital of the world.  One-third of daily commuters choose the bicycle.  Over the past twenty years Portland, Oregon has transformed itself into one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in North America, making cycling an important cog in the wheel of transportation options.  Bicycling.com offers a list of America’s Top 50 Bike-Friendly Cities.

Closer to home, Auburn University has done a lot over the past several years to encourage cycling.  In fact, we were the first, and so far only, college or university in the state to achieve Bicycle Friendly University designation by the League of American Bicyclists.  Part of the reason Auburn earned that recognition stems from the leadership of Parking Services through their creation of the War Eagle Bike Share.  The Recreation and Wellness Center’s Bike Shop also played a key role in helping us achieve the Bicycle Friendly distinction.  The Bike Shop offers Rec and Wellness Center members an opportunity to rent bikes; repair and maintain bikes; borrow tools; and meet up with fellow cycling enthusiasts to plan rides and adventures.

Whatever you want to call it, the Laufmaschine, the Draisine, or the bicycle, this 200-year-old technology was revolutionary at the time, and today the bicycle is still contributing to greater mobility, healthier people, and more livable communities.  Amazing!

 

(While the 200th anniversary of the bicycle passed rather quietly, a variety of sources did cover the story: Irish Times, treehugger.com, the BBC, New York Post, and so on.  The July 24-31 issue of Sports Illustrated includes a very informative article by Austin Murphy that includes the invention of the mountain bike.)

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Auburn University Launches New Sustainability Map

Post contributed by Matthew Preisser, Office of Sustainability Intern

Over the course of the past year, interns at the Office of Sustainability, in conjunction with the Office of Information Technology, worked to create a new interactive feature for the Auburn Map.  This addition to the map will allow viewers to see where on campus Auburn demonstrates and supports sustainability.

If you click on the Placemarks tab, you can select markers for Bus Stops, Computer Labs, Food, Parking and other essential items visitors, students, and faculty often look for. Now under this same section, you can look at Sustainability Placemarks on campus.  This new feature provides a great way for everyone to be able to see both where on campus action is being taken and where resources exist to support further endeavors.

Screen capture of Auburn campus map with sustainability placemarks.
A glimpse at the all of the sustainability features and people around Auburn’s campus.

Sustainability encompasses nature, individual wellbeing, society, and economy and this new map shows features of all of these. You can view Sustainability Placemarks for:

  • Wellness
  • Food Transportation
  • Infrastructure
  • Water People
  • Greenspace
  • Waste

The Office of Sustainability wants anyone on campus to understand they are surrounded by sustainable ideas and practices, with the hope this will influence them to incorporate sustainable practices into their own work and studies.

In the future the Office of Sustainability will continue to add more placemarks to the map as sustainability practices and resources on campus evolve, so be sure check back to see how Auburn University continues to grow.

 

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Join the War Eagle Bike Share Today! Here’s How…

Post contributed by Don Andre, Manager of Parking Services

Photo of Bike Share BikesWe are pleased to announce that the War Eagle Bike Share program is now available.  You can go to your app store/market place on your smart phone or visit au.gotchabike.com  and join the program to start using the bicycles.

  • Go to your app store/market place and search for “Social Bicycles”.
  • When installing, you will need to agree to allow the app to access your location and send notifications.
  • Once in the app, and when prompted after the instructions, select “Register” and then select “War Eagle Bike Share” network.
  • You must enter payment information in case you exceed the free two-hour rental period.
  • Keep in mind the PIN code you select when registering will be your PIN for accessing bicycles at the hub locations.
  • To activate your registration, you must confirm via the link in the email you will receive from socialbicycles.com.
  • Once your registration is activated, you’re ready to ride!

To use a bike without making a reservation in advance, go to a War Eagle Bike Share hub and enter your account number and PIN code.  The bike will unlock – remove the yellow U-bar and place it in the holster rings on the left side of the bike while riding.

To reserve a bike, go to the Social Bicycles app on your smart phone or visit au.gotchabike.com. Select a bike from the map that you would like to reserve.  After clicking or tapping on the bike, press the “CONFIRM” button.   A screen will pop up informing you which bicycle you have reserved and give you the opportunity to cancel the reservation.  You can then go to the War Eagle hub location, find the bicycle you reserved and enter your PIN code to unlock the U-bar.

Photo of Bike Key PadIf a rider would like to make a quick stop, they can press the “HOLD” button on the keypad interface and lock the bike to a nearby rack to temporarily pause the rental. Any maintenance issues encountered can also be reported directly on the keypad.

When your ride is complete, you must return the bicycle to any War Eagle Bike Share hub to end the ride and not be charged additional fees.  Be sure to lock the bike securely to the bicycle rack by securing the U-bar around the rack and insert into the designated holes at the rear of the bike.  If there is not any space in the hub to return the bike, you may lock the bicycle to any bike rack near the hub and contact our office through email or by calling (334) 844-4143 to let us know where the bicycle is located.

The bike share information/instructions are also available in the app by selecting the “Support” option.

Thanks!  Enjoy your ride, follow the rules of the road and wear a helmet.

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Join the Dark Side

Post contributed by Kyle Kimel, Office of Sustainability Intern

Energy-saving practices are an interesting topic of discussion. It seems the students I’ve talked with admit it can be very easy to save energy, but at the same time, they also admit they never really think about it in their daily lives. The lifestyle and mindset of “nothing I do will actually make a difference” needs to change.

Americans have done a better job of slowing down our energy consumption trend over the past five years. But think about the difference we could make if everyone did the “easy” things every day, like turning off the lights and adjusting the thermostat when you leave the house. Not only would we save energy, but we would also be saving LOTS of money. The typical household spends over two thousand dollars on utility bills annually, and could be cut by almost twenty-five percent with energy saving techniques. With over 100 million residences in the United States, that’s roughly 400 million dollars that’s being wasted on unnecessary energy consumption.

Photo of Computer Shutdown
Powering down electronics only takes a second, but can help make a world of difference.

As college students, we can do our part by making the “easy” things part of our daily routine. When you leave for class every day and when you go to bed, make sure all the lights in your apartment or dorm are turned off. Another easy way for students to save energy is by turning off your gaming consoles when you’re not playing them. Even if they aren’t actually being used, gaming consoles use lots of energy just having them plugged in.

Although turning off the lights and adjusting your thermostat are great sustainable practices and an easy way to save money, we have to start taking the necessary steps as active citizens to impact our community on a larger scale. If you want to have a greater influence on the University and the surrounding community, you can register to vote in the City of Auburn and get actively involved in policy change that affects you personally.

How we get around also contributes to the energy that we consume. If you live on campus, try walking whenever you can, and only drive when it’s a necessity. If you live off campus, try walking, biking, or utilizing the transit system, whenever possible. Auburn University have made a great effort to provide a high-quality bus transit for its students, and a bike friendly campus; so let’s take advantage of it and save some energy and resources in the process.

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Pedal Past the Basics at Bike School

Post contributed by Dani Green, Group Fitness Graduate Assistant, Campus Recreation

Bike School is a new 5-week program offered by Auburn Campus Recreation to teach and prepare you to ride on any bike, on any terrain!

Our Master Cyclist, Bill Perry, will coach you through all the cycling fundamentals and basics to transform you into a well-rounded and equipped cyclist on the road and on the mountains. Train on our state-of-the-art indoor Life Fitness cycles to get you ready to explore the great outdoors on wheels. Meet once a week with your cycling peers for an hour ride on the cycles and a 30-minute educational session covering the importance of cross training, nutrition to reach maximum potential, the periodization of training, bike maintenance, and the bike basics, like turning and braking.

Throughout the five weeks, you will track your progress in strength, flexibility and stability, endurance and stamina, and physiological improvement through the use of our MyZone Heart Rate monitoring system and other fitness apps. After completion of the course, resources will be given to allow you to remain connected to the cycling world locally and nationally.

Enroll in Bike School to become a great cyclist while creating new friendships and a new lifelong hobby. It all starts with a single pedal stroke.

Bike School will be held on Mondays from 5:00 pm — 6:30 pm for 5 consecutive weeks with the first session beginning Monday, February 1st.  To register, visit the RWC – Courses, and then select ‘Bike School’. It will take you to the Bike School registration page, where you will be able to choose to participate in the 1st or 2nd offering of Bike School for the spring semester. Once you have decided which offering to enroll in, select ‘Register Now’ or ‘Add to Cart’, and follow the onscreen instructions.

For more information on Bike School, you may contact Campus Recreation.

 

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Auburn University Recognized as Bicycle Friendly University

Photo of Auburn's Bike Friendly University sign!
Auburn’s Bike Friendly University sign!

In case you didn’t hear, Auburn University received a Silver Bicycle Friendly University Award from the League of American Bicyclists. Our official sign just arrived in the mail!

Auburn is the first university in Alabama to be named a Bicycle Friendly University, and joins more than 100 colleges and universities across the United States who are working to transform their campuses. The designation gives Auburn access to a variety of free tools and technical assistance from the League of American Bicyclists to become even more bicycle-friendly.

To learn more about cycling amenities on campus, the benefits of biking, and some of the resources Auburn University will receive from the League of American Bicyclists, please read the press release.

With the beautiful weather this time of year, now is the time to give bike commuting a try! Don’t forget your helmet and bike lights for a safe ride!

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Director’s Corner: The Earth-Friendly, People-Friendly, Two-Wheeled, Human-Powered People Mover

Photo of War Eagle BikeSometimes the awesomeness of common devices is taken for granted.  A bicycle is such a device, especially when viewed through the lens of sustainability.

A bike tour of all four points of the Sustainability Compass, Nature, Economy, Society, and individual Wellbeing, tells the story.

Biking and Nature:

It takes far less (polluting) energy to produce a bike than any other form of transportation.  In operation, bikes are the most energy-efficient forms of travel, three times more energy efficient than walking.  They use no fossil fuels so they do not contribute to climate change.  The only fuel required is food that nourishes the muscle-power of the cyclist.  Bikes are virtually non-polluting.  And by non-polluting I mean more than not dripping oil or emitting noxious gases.  Bikes are quiet.  No noise.

Biking and the Economy:

Many studies have been done that document cycling’s significant positive economic impact: A few years ago the Outdoor Foundation published a report showing the annual economic contribution of bicycling to the U.S. economy to be $133 billion, supporting over 1 million jobs, and generating close to $18 billion in federal and state tax revenue.  In 2012, The League of American Bicyclists produced a report entitled Bicycling Means Business, and the Adventure Cycling Association has gathered several other international and domestic reports that quantify the potent economic impact of biking.  Very impressive!

Biking and Society:

Bike-friendly cities like Minneapolis have a welcoming, people-friendly vibe.  Cyclists and pedestrians enhance a sense of community.  They are far more likely to interact socially, and by biking gain a more familiar and intimate knowledge of their communities.   Biking eases congestion and creates safer neighborhoods, since bikes are less dangerous than cars and travel at slower speeds.  The noise and air quality benefits biking provides to the environment also apply to quality of life in communities.  Bikes are relatively cheap and affordable to operate and therefore accessible forms of transportation for almost everyone.  Biking improves the mobility of many, including low-income groups, unemployed people, seniors, and those too young to drive.

Biking and personal Wellbeing:

The physical health benefits of biking are well established.  Cycling increases cardio-vascular endurance and energy levels, improves muscle tone and overall fitness.  Cycling is fun, and a bike ride can actually decrease your cortisol (stress hormone) levels and improve mental and emotional wellbeing.  A Portland survey showed that cyclists are the happiest commuters, followed in order by walkers, those who use express buses, then light rail, carpool, local buses and – at the bottom – people who drive alone.

Here in Auburn, conditions are improving for cyclists.  Auburn’s campus is more bike and pedestrian-friendly than ever.  Parking Services offers a Bicycling Basics handbook with rules of the road and biking etiquette, instructions for registering a bike on campus, area maps, and more.  In addition, Parking Services is about to introduce the War Eagle Bike-Share program, so bikes will be accessible all over campus.  Stay tuned for more details.  The Auburn Outdoors Bike Shop, located in the Recreation & Wellness Center, has a variety of bikes for rent, has resources on hand for bike repair, and organizes bike trips for groups.  For more rules of the road and tips for enjoyable, safe biking check out the Travel with Care Auburn website.

And for cyclists or would-be cyclists who enjoy citizen activism and policy development, a great way to get involved is to join the City of Auburn Bicycle Committee.  Meetings are held the last Tuesday of every month at 7:00 p.m. in the Auburn Public Library Conference Room, 749 E. Thach Ave.

Your involvement is important because our state has a long way to go to be acknowledged as a “Bicycle Friendly” state.  The League of American Bicyclists ranks all 50 states noting the number of bike-friendly communities, business, and universities in each state.  As you can see at the awards database, Alabama ranks dead last, with only one bike-friendly community (which happens to be the City of Auburn!), two officially designated bike-friendly businesses, and zero bike-friendly universities, although Auburn University has just submitted a detailed application to be recognized as the first bike-friendly university in the state.  We will find out in October if our application has been approved.

You can get involved with our application for Bicycle Friendly recognition by contributing your voice to the process.  The League of American Bicyclists has created a survey for students, faculty, staff, and others familiar with campus bicycling to gather user feedback to inform their decision-making process for our potential award.  The 11-question survey will remain open through Friday, September 18th.  We encourage you to participate and share the survey with others you know that utilize biking amenities on campus.

So, get out there and start biking!  Enjoy the benefits.  Have fun with others.  And join with other engaged citizens to make sure that planning and policy initiatives on campus and in our communities reflect the spectacular value of the amazing earth-friendly, people-friendly, two-wheeled, human-powered people mover.

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