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Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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UB encourages students to make the wheels go 'round

In the beginning of the semester, the University at Buffalo launched a new pro-health, pro-environment and pro-decrease-the-ridiculous-parking-situation program called Bicycling at UB. The current biking program has provoked a positive response from campus biking enthusiasts.

Before the program had launched, there were already bike enthusiasts on campus. The program is designed to make bicycling safer and more convenient for the cyclists, as well as to increase the amount of people biking on the UB campuses.

UB Green played a major factor in launching the program in conjunction with Parking and Transportation Services.

"UB Green's role goes back to 2005, when UB Green created an environmental task force," said Jim Simon, an associate environmental educator with UB Green. "The environmental task force decided to start the bicycle committee."

The Environmental Task Force is a diverse group of environmental activists who are also fellow cyclists. Faculty and staff members, as well as students are all represented within the Force.

Simon said that as a group of cyclists, they were able to easily decide that a biking program at UB was necessary. They knew first-hand how biking can be faster for traveling around campus and how it could also mitigate the parking problem on campus, with more bikers meaning less drivers. As bikers, they also knew the importance of health and wellness and decided it would be another important reason for launching this program.

UB Green and Parking and Transportation Services took several steps to launch the biking program. Parking and Transportation Services have increased the number of bike racks throughout North and South Campus and can now provide for up to 300 bikes.

Parking and Transportation services have launched a new service in conjunction with the program to allow students and faculty members to register their bikes.

Chris Austin, assistant director of the Parking and Transportation Services, said that there have been 42 registrations since the start of the program. He said that already they have seen the benefits of people registering. In the few months since the program began, they have already been able to contact owners of abandoned bicycles because of registration.

"If a bike is stolen or left in the wrong place, (Parking and Transportation Services is) able to track the bike back to the owner," Austin said.

Austin said that students can come to any of the Parking and Transportation Services offices to register their bikes. Online registration for the bikes will be available in the spring.

In addition to the registration and increase in bike racks, the program has added bike racks to the front of the UB Stampede buses.

"This is really great for students to get between North and South Campus," Simon said.

Bicyclists are also able to ride to campus and not worry about having to ride back in bad weather; they can safely transport their bikes back while keeping dry in the buses.

UB Green and Parking and Transportation Services additionally launched their program in partnership with the Buffalo Blue Bicycle program.

The Buffalo Blue Bicycle program can be found at the bike rack hubs, where there are specially marked bikes that can be rented by members of Buffalo Blue Bicycle.

According to Simon, members of the community can register for only $25 (for less then a tank of gas) and use bicycles provided from the program. If they cannot pay the $25 dollars, they have the option of doing six hours of community service for the program, which would entail such tasks as maintaining the bikes.

"If you don't have a bike, you can still get around campus with one for really cheap," Simon said.

Members can take a bike from one of the bike rack hubs, ride it to any other hub around the community, not just on UB campuses, and leave it there without having to worry about bringing it back to the hub they got it from.

According to Austin, there have been 54 new Buffalo Blue Bicycle members since the launch of the Bicycling at UB program.

Student bicyclists have been thrilled with the launch of the program and the way that it continues to expand. Nicolas Kobat, a sophomore political science major and a member of the UB bicycling committee, was a regular bicyclist before the program was even launched because of his love for the environment and exercise.

"Finding out about global warming made me concerned about the environment," Kobat said. "I realized the government can only do so much. We need to change the environment ourselves."

Kobat said that he enjoys riding the bike path that connects North and South Campus and said that he has become friends with the fellow bikers on campus. Kobat said that he has also noticed an improvement in his health since he began biking regularly.

"I used to fall asleep in every class," Kobat said. "Since I've started biking I haven't fallen asleep in class. I have more energy now."

Edward Yee, a senior mechanical engineer major, is also an avid bicyclist. Yee has noticed that bicycling is usually faster than the bus. He also said it was a great way to enjoy the community because he can go where the buses are unable to go. He has biked to Niagara Falls four times and plans on going more.

"I biked 98 miles one day, by accident," Yee said. "We got lost after biking to Southeast Buffalo. When I finally made it back, I saw I had biked 98 miles that day."

Yee said that new bikers should know that they will be treated well by cars on the road as long as they follow the rules of the road and ride safely.

Amanda Hibbard, a sophomore nursing major, rides her bike from the Ellicott Complex to the main section of North Campus on a daily basis and enjoys using the bike paths.

"I don't really like riding the bus," Hibbard said. "It tends to be crowded."

Although Hibbard uses her car for out-of-campus traveling, she still feels that the program is a great idea because it will help the environment with less driving, and it will promote a healthy lifestyle.

Christopher Gawel, a junior legal studies major, is a commuter from Orchard Park and will not use the new program because it is too far away for him to travel.

"If I lived within a mile or two, I would bike," Gawel said.

According to Austin, the program is still too new to measure the effects on parking on campus.

"Our goal was to provide and support an additional transportation alternative," Austin said. "We are certainly pleased with the program to date, and we look forward to advancing the biking community."

Simon said he is very happy seeing the bikes placed on the front racks of the UB Stampede and is happy to see an increase of bikers around campus.

"A lot of great steps have been taken with the program," Simon said. "It is going to be really exciting to see how the program's master plan works out."



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