UW-Madison named platinum-level Bicycle Friendly University

Pedestrians ride their bicycles and walk on a colorful tree-lined path at the Howard Temin Lakeshore Path during fall at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on Nov. 4, 2016. Photo by Bryce Richter / UW-Madison

The University of Wisconsin–Madison is one of only eight institutions honored as a platinum-level Bicycle Friendly University. The award is the highest given by the League of American Bicyclists, the oldest advocacy organization for people who bike.

The Bicycle Friendly University program 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 given in bronze, silver, gold, and platinum, which is awarded for excellence across the board.

“These are the type of campuses that have a comfortable and safe bike network, excellent bike parking, great bike education programs, a supportive police force and just people on bikes everywhere,” according to the league.

UW–Madison had previously received a gold designation, given to universities with strong bike cultures but that may still need to offer more accessibility in their bike networks or reach more students and staff with bicycling education and encouragement programs.

“We are very proud of what UW–Madison has achieved in order to upgrade from gold to platinum level,” says Patrick Kass, director of UW Transportation Services. “A strong bicycling infrastructure encourages positive health and environmental choices and is essential to helping reduce motor vehicle traffic and demand for parking. We look forward to continuing to support and improve campus bicycle amenities as part of our Commuter Solutions program.”

Platinum level, according to the league, indicates a strong institutional-level bicycling program as well as active campus and local advocacy groups and student clubs supporting cycling. The Bicycle Friendly University program started in 2011; UW–Madison was recognized in 2011 at the silver level and upgraded to gold in 2015.

“By meeting one of the four award levels, universities and colleges demonstrate a commitment not only to fostering academic achievements, but also to developing model environments where people can safely bike and contribute to healthier, more sustainable outcomes,” says Bill Nesper, executive director of the league.

The UW’s renewal application and upgrade to platinum was supported by amenities and improvements such as:

  • Elm Street Bike Shelter: The soon-to-be-open enclosed bicycle shelter near the Lakeshore residence halls will feature 48 stalls of high-density bike racks, a fix-it station, and free access to those with a Wiscard.
  • Lakeshore Path at Limnology route study: A study was commissioned to identify safe route alternatives that connect the Howard Temin Lakeshore Path to Park Street at the Memorial Union Terrace, a common area of bicycle, pedestrian and motor vehicle conflict. Study results will be used to improve facilities in the area, and site improvements were included in the five-year capital budget.
  • Automated bike counters: As of summer 2019, Transportation Services has purchased new equipment to count bicyclists and pedestrians on shared-use paths and select intersections. Data will be used to gauge trends in the use of bike facilities across campus, and to justify improvements that fill the last couple of missing gaps in the campus bicycle transportation network.
  • Upgraded bicycle crossing at Highland Avenue: A call button and flashing signal setup increased the safety and usability of the Campus Drive bicycle-pedestrian path by allowing bicyclists and pedestrians to stop motor vehicle traffic and cross the intersection.
  • 15,605 bike parking stalls (over 2,500 more stalls than motor vehicle stalls).
  • Ten “air and repair” stations located throughout campus.
  • The University Bicycle Resource Center, for those interested in performing tune-ups to their own bicycles and attending free, monthly events held during the academic year.
  • Football bicycle parking corral: Free supervised parking for home football games in partnership with the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin.

Madison is consistently ranked as a top U.S. city for bicycling and has platinum-level Bicycle Friendly Community distinction.

As UW–Madison continues to improve its campus accessibility by bike, 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.

To learn more about the free Bicycle Friendly University program, visit the League of American Bicyclists website.

To learn more about bicycling at UW–Madison, visit the Transportation Services website.

This story first appeared at news.wisc.edu

October 17, 2019