Brittany Schock / Asst. photo editor
In the last three years, Ohio State has invested more than $2 million into efforts to promote and provide a bicycle-friendly environment for students and visitors, according to the League of American Bicyclists.
The LAB has honored OSU as a Bicycle Friendly University for transforming its campus into a friendly bicycling culture. OSU is the 26th university to be nationally recognized and is the first in Ohio.
In order to be considered, a college or university is judged in five categories referred to as the Five E’s: engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement and evaluation. A school is scored in each category and then each score is calculated to achieve a total. Overall, OSU scored a bronze.
“The application process is a lengthy one,” said Jeff Stephens, executive director of Consider Biking, a local non-profit bike advocacy group. “Colleges must first perform a pretest, and then fill out an application to be reviewed.”
Stephens also acts as a local reviewer, supplying his own rankings and sending the application back to be scored internally by the League.
Stephens said he pushed OSU to apply.
“I looked at the university and their bike initiatives and felt they would qualify,” Stephens said.
He got the help of alternative transportation coordinator Robert Osterfeld, who works within the Transportation and Parking Services, to integrate cycling into campus.
“We promote a safe way to ride on the street with shared lanes and the parking aspects have become much simpler,” Osterfeld said.
Transportation and Parking Services has added more than 8,000 bike racks around campus.
Stephens first began his mission to incorporate biking into OSU when Karen Holbrook was president of the university.
“This has been an ongoing project,” Stephens said. “When President E. Gordon Gee became president, he allocated $1.5 million into fixing the Olentangy Bike Trail.”
The university has constructed new bike lockers on North campus and connected the campus with the city biking paths. Gee also invested in share lanes on the local streets.
Osterfeld has recommendations for students who want to start biking.
“Wear a helmet and remember cycling on the road is the safest place to be,” he said. “Drivers can see you better when you are riding in their lane versus riding on the sidewalk.”
Blake Adkins, a fourth-year in electrical engineering, rides in the share lanes on High Street and said they work fine until you have to merge with traffic, when it “gets tricky.”
As for navigating through on-campus construction, Adkins said that is the only time it is inconvenient to bike.
Cyclists make special trips to get around closed streets and avoid crowds of students and construction areas.
Stephen said there is a plan in place for the future of the university in relation to cycling.
“The movement is in the right place,” Stephens said. “The foundation has been set and the leadership is there to see this through.”