Students and faculty have long known that EMU is a place for bicycle owners, with bike storage in several locations around campus, bike lanes on the roads boardering EMU, and the College Street Bike Co-op. EMU has made a commitment to biking as a form of transportation. However, last week EMU students and staff were able to formally celebrate this commitment as EMU was added to the League of American Bicyclists’ list of Bicycle Friendly Universities as a bronze award recipient. This recognition was celebrated by a Wednesday chapel which saw an abundance of bicycles and a group photo on Thomas Plaza.
The League’s list consists of four tiers of members, with Stanford University receiving the only platinum rating and the gold ratings going to two separate campuses of the University of California. On the bronze level, EMU is one of the few small universities as it joins universities with high enrollment and prestigious names. The list of bronze recipients includes several schools from the Big Ten and SEC, in addition to Ivy League and prominent tech schools.
Although no single factor led to EMU being placed on the list, several of the University’s programs mirror those implemented by colleges with more resources. For example, the University of Utah has received accolades for the establishment of its bicycle co-op. The Utah University Co-op boasts its own website where you can do anything from purchasing a t-shirt to donating a bike. However, despite being located on a campus 42.5 times smaller, the College Street Bike Co-op at EMU has been a staple of campus life for many years now and provides services similar to those offered by the much larger University of Utah Co-op. EMU also offers other service that would be familiar at larger bike friendly colleges. Among these is EMU’s emphases on bike lanes and prolific bike parking.
EMU mirrors the larger schools in other less concrete ways as well. For example, when explaining Yale’s addition to the list Holly Parker, Yale’s Director of Sustainable Transportation, said, “With Yale’s dedicated leadership in sustainability, creating a safe and attractive environment at Yale for bicyclists and reducing single occupancy vehicle usage in the city are goals for us and many in our community.” This statement shows a philosophy similar to that of EMU which lists creation care as a pillar of its identity. Furthermore, EMU has been able to accomplish the same results (a bronze award) as Yale,without the large endowments, alumni organizations, and lobbying power of the famous Ivy League school.
However, for many, this award simply confirms what they already knew. When asked about what the award meant, junior Bude Bude, an avid biker, saw the list as more of a recognition than a statement. Bude said, “I have always known that EMU provided a good environment for bikers. We have enclosed shelters for our bikes, bike lanes on the roads. I really enjoy biking and I think that EMU makes it easier for me… I think it is nice that we get recognized though.”
David Yoder, Opinion Editor