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UI receives recognition for bicycling

BY MICHAEL KADRIE | OCTOBER 28, 2014 5:00 AM

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The University of Iowa rides into accreditation with improving infrastructure and a bike-friendly atmosphere.

The League of American Bicyclists recognized the UI with a Silver Bicycle Friendly University award last week. This award is held by 100 other colleges and universities across the country.

The league operates nationally to create safer roads and stronger bicycling communities.

Applicants for the award provide the league with their information and receive feedback along with their results.

In conjunction with the recognition, the UI has focused efforts on improving things such as bike lanes.

“There’s a strong bicycling culture in Iowa and an especially strong bicycling culture in Iowa City,” UI Office of Sustainability director Liz Christiansen said.

She said she assumes the league will still recommend improvements to bike lanes in Iowa City.

UI Bicycle Advisory Committee member Andrew Lynch said the members worked closely with officials from Iowa City and the UI Transportation & Parking Department to improve bike lane placement throughout the city. Specifically, they focused on river bridges, such as that at Burlington Street.

“Burlington Street has long been known as something that needs to be dealt with,” Lynch said.
Iowa City had already been recognized as a Silver Bicycle Friendly Community, and it works with the UI to promote and plan bicycling in the area.

Kris Ackerson, an assistant transportation planner for the Metropolitan Planning Organization of Johnson County, said the designation is important economically because businesses want to locate where there is a high quality of life and trends in transportation are changing.

“We’re seeing more people, especially in the millennial generation, using bus transportation, bike transportation, and walking than ever before,” he said.

These are national trends that were manifesting locally in a big way, he said.

Ackerson said officials are investigating the possibility of bike lanes in several places in the city, including Madison and Burlington Streets.

This announcement comes at the same time as recognition for the UI as one of 105 intuitions recognized for a high level of sustainability on its campus.

Christiansen said promoting bicycling was in step with the UI’s moves to meet the school’s 2020 sustainability goals, which include reducing the university’s carbon footprint.

Christiansen worked to swiftly turn the feedback from the 2012 designation into a plan.

Though they have yet to receive feedback from their silver medal award, Christiansen feels confident that the UI addressed all the league’s previous concerns.

Another action taken in response to the 2012 designation was the creation of the UI Bicycle Advisory Committee.

The committee brings UI staff, faculty, and students with a shared interest in bicycling together for monthly meetings. The main concern is the promotion of bicycling through campus projects and biking challenges.

This year, it will once again team up with the Sustainability Office to offer students the chance to compete in the Winter Warrior Challenge.

Interested cyclists compete to see who can log the most miles on their bike during the winter months, and various prizes are offered to top riders.

Last year’s competition drew 189 riders, and the spring biking challenge drew in 197.

Other projects to promote awareness across the campus include a newsletter and a new UI recreational biking club.

The Sustainability Office also advertises cycling at various faculty fairs and freshman events.

UI senior Alex Kinzel is one of the many students who take advantage of the bike-friendly city.

“[Iowa City is] very accessible; a lot of the roads are biker friendly, and drivers are very accommodating,” he said.


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