CCU earns silver designation as a bicycle-friendly university
by Caroline P. Rohr
Coastal Carolina University has been designated a Silver-level Bicycle Friendly University by the League of American Bicyclists, the oldest and only grassroots advocacy organization for people who bike. The award is in recognition of the institution’s achievements in promoting and enabling safe, accessible bicycling on campus.
“Just as applying to a college or university requires self-reflection, self-evaluation, and meeting rigorous standards, so too does applying for and attaining Bicycle Friendly University status,” said Bill Nesper, executive director of the league. “By meeting one of the four award levels, universities and colleges demonstrate a commitment to not only fostering academic achievements, but also to developing model environments where people can safely bike and contribute to healthier, more sustainable outcomes.”
CCU is one of only 62 universities in the nation that has achieved silver status. Coastal became a bicycle-friendly university first in 2015 and has been at the bronze level since then. Only three other colleges in South Carolina have received some designation from the league: the University of South Carolina (silver), the College of Charleston (bronze), and Clemson University (silver).
“This means that we’re being recognized on a national level for the strides that we've taken to become more bicycle-friendly, such as the implementation of the bike lanes, greater availability of quality bike racks outside campus buildings, the growth of the Coastal Re-Cycles free bicycle rental program, having an active and engaged campus Bicycle Advisory Committee, as well as continued educational efforts for safer cycling at CCU,” said Beth Javener, facilities coordinator for Outdoor Recreation. “This is a major award for CCU, as it's both recognizing the work that has been done and is encouraging future work to continue on our campus.”
The Coastal Re-Cycles program is a bike rental program that supports sustainability and provides a free mode of transportation for students. All the bicycles available for rent are recycled, which keeps them out of the landfill, and come with a helmet and a lock. After launching in 2010 with 20 bikes, there are now more than 350 bikes available for rent on a monthly basis, making it one of the largest free bike rental programs on a college campus in the nation.
“Coastal Re-Cycles bike program is something unlike any other program that a university could offer to its students,” said Colleen Benedict, a senior resort and sport management major. “I have used this free service throughout my time at CCU and it has helped me so much. The people who work in the Outdoor Center are always welcoming and ready to help in any way they can. If it’s a flat tire or if there is a weird noise coming from the bike, they diagnose and fix the problem! They even put together and fix personal bikes as well.”
The University also recently completed an audit of the campus bike racks to ensure the racks were located in areas where they were most needed and utilized, then created a map of where those rack locations are.
The bicycle programming on campus is part of the University’s overall plan to make the campus more pedestrian friendly. Bike lanes were recently added to Chanticleer Drive on both sides of the road, and a portion of the road has been closed to traffic to make it safer and more accessible for students to walk or ride.
As Coastal continues to improve its campus accessibility, it will have access to a variety of free tools, a library of resources, and technical assistance from the league to become even more welcoming to people who bike.
The Bicycle Friendly University program now includes 208 colleges and universities and is part of the league’s Bicycle Friendly America program, which also awards communities and businesses as part of its mission to create a Bicycle Friendly America for everyone. Designations are: honorable mention, bronze, silver, gold, and platinum.
“More than 4 million students now attend Bicycle Friendly Universities in 47 states and Washington, D.C.,” said the League’s Bicycle Friendly America Director Amelia Neptune. “There is an increasing diversity of colleges and universities committed to creating campuses, from large to small, urban to rural, that enable and encourage people to use bicycles.”
Now that CCU has achieved the silver-level designation, Javener has her sights set on gold. The University’s status will be up for renewal in four years.
“A feedback report will be issued by the League of American Bicyclists specific to CCU and will outline ways we can continue to improve,” she said. “The feedback will address education, engineering, enforcement, encouragement, and evaluation and planning; our goal then is to implement the suggested improvements in the next four years with a focus on infrastructure connectivity. The next goal is gold in 2023!”