Storrs is not bicycle-friendly 

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UConn Storrs was ranked one of Americas 37 “bike-friendly universities” by the League of American Bicyclists. Despite this ranking, UConn has nearly no bicycle lanes and requires cyclists to ride on pedestrian walkways to cross campus. Illustration by Van Nguyen/The Daily Campus.

There are deep, fundamental changes necessary for Storrs infrastructure. 

In the case of accommodation for bicycles, the situation is much worse than indicated by nonprofit observers. The League of American Bicyclists, a cycling advocacy organization, recently included the University of Connecticut as one of their 37 “bike-friendly universities.” Last year, the Daily Campus Editorial Board identified a comprehensive list of cycling problems on campus, almost all of which persist today. 

There are practically zero bicycle lanes at our “bike-friendly” university. There is one narrow, unprotected bicycle lane running on a small portion of two roads: North Eagleville and Discovery Drive. There are no protected bicycle lanes. In most of the center of campus, cyclists are encouraged to travel in the pedestrian spaces, making travel slow and collisions very likely for everyone. And when sidewalks are only two feet wide, where else should cyclists go than in the middle of the road with cars? While this is their legal right in the state of Connecticut, there isn’t much about it that’s “friendly” or safe. 

Near the center of campus, cars usually drive slow enough to make cycling in the street practical. However, over half of students in Storrs live off campus, where there are no bicycle lanes or even substantial sidewalks. Combined with few off-campus housing options, this makes for a long, dangerous commute for most cyclists. Therefore, many students don’t cycle, and in the worst cases, they may consider not even attending UConn because of the cost of on-campus housing in combination with the cost of car-ownership; out of reach for more and more Americans

So how is UConn “friendly” to cyclists? Possible accomplishments include: having a paid cycle share program from the Recreation Center, having some insufficient bicycle storage around campus, pursuing an “active transportation program” which will attempt to improve storage over time, ridesharing and instituting some real bicycle lanes around campus. But most of these accomplishments are over a year old, and praise for infrastructure plans should be reserved for after their plans come to fruition. For example, the closing of Hillside Road should be praised because it made a material improvement to the safety and wellbeing of cyclists, pedestrians and public transportation here. 

With a persistent lack of extremely basic, inexpensive infrastructure that would make cycling more accessible and safe, and with the unaddressed death last year of a student pedestrian only moments from campus, it is clear not only that Storrs remains unfriendly for cyclists but that the domination of car infrastructure poses greater threats for community safety as a whole. 

In addition to safety and accessibility concerns, bicycles have a monumentally smaller carbon footprint than cars in terms of manufacturing, direct emissions and infrastructure maintenance. For a notably hypocritical university obsessed with its status as a “green school” while extensively partnering with the largest polluter in the world and their many weapons manufacturers, refocusing on solutions that are actually sustainable — like cycling — would be wise. 

UConn should not benefit from studies and promotional materials advertising the “friendliness” and other positive qualities of the university when its environment remains hostile, inaccessible and dangerous. Instead of endless new, shinier and larger buildings, UConn needs policies, structures, roads and transportation infrastructure that provide for the health and wellbeing of the community. 

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