For the first time, the University of Connecticut has earned “Bicycle Friendly University” status by the League of American Bicyclists, recognizing the campus as environmentally friendly and supportive for biking.
The designation makes UConn one of 221 higher education institutions in the United States to ever be recognized for having a campus built with good conditions for biking. Six of those institutions, along with UConn, have achieved this status for the first time this year.
“UConn being awarded Bicycle Friendly University by the League of American Bicyclists recognizes UConn’s great features, such as the robust programming at Student Recreation and bicycle rentals at Cycle Share,” SHaW nurse practitioner Coryn Clark, who was part of the working group that put together UConn’s BFU application, said in an email.
Colleges and universities considered bike-friendly have factors that make them “ideal environments to incorporate bikes,” according to the BFU program’s website.
“Colleges and university campuses are unique environments for their high density, stimulating atmosphere and defined boundaries,” reads their website. “Many colleges and universities have built upon these good conditions and embraced the enthusiasm for more bicycle-friendly campuses by incorporating bike share programs, bike co-ops, clubs, bicycling education classes and policies to promote bicycling as a preferred means of transportation.”
Campuses are evaluated based on five categories called the Five E’s: engineering, encouragement, education, enforcement and evaluation.
Clark, a bicyclist herself, said she encourages students to make biking a habit and continue it beyond college for wellness.
“As a nurse practitioner and bicyclist, I am interested in fostering healthy habits that students can use while in college and beyond, for lifelong wellness,” Clark said. “Bicycling helps physical fitness and helps combat stress. Also, bicycling is another way people in the UConn community can decrease the use of fossil fuel burning vehicles, which is important for the environment.”
UConn’s new bike-friendly designation isn’t the only one in Connecticut. Ten of the state’s cities and towns, including Mansfield, Hartford and Farmington, have earned “Bicycle Friendly Community” designation in the past. Yale University is so far the only other higher education institution in Connecticut to have received the designation.
After Mansfield was recognized as a bike-friendly community in 2017, the working group, along with Mansfield community advocates, have been collaborating to bring the same designation to UConn’s Storrs campus.
“The Bicycle Working Group was started in August 2018 to assess the current conditions and advocate for changes that improve the access and safety for bicycling,” Clark said. “We have members from many departments and from Mansfield organizations.”
In January 2022, UConn developed its first Active Transportation Plan, a project focused on “reducing pedestrian-vehicular conflicts and increasing safety and connectivity throughout the campus core,” according to the ATP website.
UConn’s BFU designation also allows them to continue progress towards its newly established ATP, according to Clark.
“This [BFU] designation (bronze level) also gives UConn impetus to continue progress on its recently adopted Active Transportation Plan,” Clark said.
More information about UConn’s Bicycle Working Group, biking trails at the Storrs campus and an interactive bicycle parking map can be found at the Office of Sustainability’s website.