WKU earns recognition as bicycle friendly university

Sumner, Iowa, junior Jodi Miller removes her bike from a rack in front of a WKU bus on Normal Drive Monday. 

Mackenzie Mathews

Having recently been dubbed a Bronze Level Bicycle Friendly University by the League of American Bicyclists, WKU has expressed its progress toward becoming a proficient cycling environment, while maintaining plenty of room for improvement.

Biking has been on the rise amongst students, and with developing conditions and awareness, it is poised to continue to grow as a hobby and source of transportation.

Former Bowling Green student Joseph Jones previously worked for Big Red Bikes. He said biking is the only way he gets around, but that does not come without costs.

“When you ride your bike 15 miles every day for seven years, you’re bound to get hit,” he said. “Cars aren’t looking for bikes coming at them from the sidewalks, but if you ride on the street, they expect you to be there.”

For Jones, the most important objective in encouraging cycling is awareness. He works to get people, especially students, biking by recycling and refurbishing vintage bikes, especially those built for the road. He said he has sold more than 130 bicycles in the last year.

He also said with more people using them as transportation, conditions will become safer.

“The best way to promote bicycle advocacy is to see people on bikes,” Jones said. “If you’re the only one on the road, you’re kind of a rare bird.”

Jones has noticed WKU is doing what they can to earn their status as a Bicycle Friendly University, or BFU, with bike racks, WKU’s Outdoor Recreation Adventure Center and Big Red Bikes. There is still much that can be done, but it is challenging in a town that is not very bike-friendly, he said.

“Bowling Green isn’t really set up for bikes,” Jones said. “Campus is like a small oasis where you can ride within a city that makes it difficult, having areas like the bypass.”

Other students have found additional difficulties riding through town and on campus.

Before coming to WKU, Louisville senior Drew Bly spent two years as a bike messenger in Chicago.

“There aren’t enough bike racks,” he said. “It’s frustrating getting tickets or warnings on my bike when there aren’t enough places for proper parking. Big Red Bikes is great. I think there is decent support, but there is still a long way to go. If more people rode bikes in Bowling Green, this town would be amazing.”

One of the purposes for naming schools as BFUs is to enhance work toward a sustainable future, and it is easy to see how biking fits into such a category: no gas, no exhaust.

Bowling Green sophomore Ann Lundy Games said bikes do not contribute to pollution or take up much space. Games has noticed the impending improvements WKU has made as a BFU.

“Everywhere there’re stairs, there’s also ramps,” she said. “There is a bike lane going up and down one side of campus, giving bikers the option to not bike directly on the road. The buses have racks on them and there are bike racks all around campus.”

Being a Bronze Level BFU has given WKU recognition for the steps it has taken to begin paving its way toward a safer and more convenient biking university, which would allow more cyclists to take to the roads.