AMHERST — UMass Amherst has been designated as a Bike Friendly University (BFU) by the League of American Bicyclists, a grassroots advocacy organization encouraging better bicycling and protecting the rights of people who bike. UMass Amherst is one of only eight universities in Massachusetts to receive the commendation for providing safe, accessible biking on campus.
“We first applied for the designation in 2012 and didn’t quite make the list, receiving an honorable mention at the time,” said Ezra Small, campus sustainability manager. “This bronze award shows that UMass Amherst is committed to promoting bicycling as a healthy, environmentally friendly way of getting around campus and that we have improved our bike access significantly over the past decade.”
Bill Nesper, executive director of the League of American Bicyclists, noted that “I am pleased to celebrate 37 new and renewing Bicycle Friendly Universities joining the movement to build a bicycle-friendly America for everyone. Bicycle Friendly Universities, like UMass Amherst, offer a far more holistic experience of campus life for students, faculty, and staff by implementing policies, programs, and infrastructure improvements that make for safer and easier car-free commutes, healthier lives through increased physical activity, and a campus community more connected to its surroundings.”
Providing bike-friendly accommodations is a vital part of the university’s Sustainable UMass initiative. In recent years, four-foot-wide bicycle lanes have been constructed on the primary campus roadways of Massachusetts Avenue, North Pleasant Street, and Commonwealth Avenue to promote safe bike travel. In 2016, the university expanded its bike access for students, faculty, and staff by becoming a founding member of ValleyBike Share, and six bike-share stations are now spread across campus to allow students, faculty, and staff to easily rent and return bikes.
The UMass Bicycle Commuter Program coordinates the Campus Bicycle Advisory Committee to help the university prioritize bike-related goals on campus, and the UMass Amherst Bike Library rental program, operated by the Student Government Assoc. and the Physical Plant, lets students, faculty, and staff borrow bikes for free, for as long as an entire academic year.
Landscape architecture and regional planning major Ryan Griffis was instrumental in completing the university’s application, Small said.
UMass joins Harvard, MIT, UMass Lowell, Bentley University, Tufts University, and Boston University’s Charles River and medical-school campuses as Bike Friendly Universities. Since the program launched in 2011, such designations have been certified at 222 U.S. colleges and universities in 47 states.