Bicycle Friendly University UMD hosts mobile workshop
Last year, at the 2016 National Bike Summit, we hosted the first-ever Bicycle Friendly America mobile workshops, which were a huge hit. We heard from NBS16 participants that getting out on bikes and being able to tour bicycle-friendly facilities at our business and community partners were highlights of their week in DC. This year, we brought back the mobile workshops to the 2017 National Bike Summit, and added a new tour of a Gold-level Bicycle Friendly University, the University of Maryland (UMD) at College Park.
The tour at UMD kicked off with a welcome from College Park Mayor Patrick Wojahn, who described the many ways that the city and university are working to improve bicycle-friendliness for residents, students, and visitors. We then spent the morning touring the campus on UMD’s new Zagster bikeshare bikes, including a stop at the campus-run bike shop. The tour was organized and led by UMD’s full-time Bicycle Coordinator, Aaron Goldbeck, who says “I was very proud to show off what UMD has accomplished during the mobile workshop and thought that our conversations were incredibly illuminating.”
Aaron added, “It is rare for folks working on bike issues in higher ed to meet face-to-face. I’m grateful that the NBS gives us the opportunity — we are in a specialized niche, but each of us has the ability to impact thousands of students. If we impart a good understanding of cycling to the students at our institutions, that is possibly a huge number of new members of the bicycling community. Sharing ideas with one another at the NBS is a great opportunity to improve our campuses and increases the chances of UMD positively impacting thousands of students a year.”
After the tour, we stopped for lunch and a presentation by Aaron, highlighting a number of efforts on the campus including data collection, adaptive bikes in their bikeshare fleet, enforcement and education programs, and plans for future infrastructure improvements. Over lunch, the group of nearly twenty campus bicycle coordinators from around the country had a fruitful discussion about their own challenges and successes on campus.
The UMD mobile workshop was part of a larger effort to add more Bicycle Friendly University-related content to the 2017 National Bike Summit. I was happy to see an increase in participation from BFU-related staff, faculty, and students this year, and look forward to getting even more BFU folks to attend the Summit next year and beyond. If you work for a college or university, take it from one of our attendees that the Summit is a conference worth attending for campus-affiliated bike staff and advocates: “This past week was hands down one of the most helpful and exciting conferences I have ever attended,” wrote Jeff Puckett, Texas A&M’s Alternative Transportation Program Manager. “Getting to meet other university managers and discuss different issues and programs was truly an enlightening experience.”
Amelia Neptune is Director of the League’s Bicycle Friendly America Program