Campus Commuters Turning to Bicycling

Photo: Liz Reid bikes Monday through Friday to UC Berkeley's School of Public Health, where she works as admissions coordinator.
Nick Fradkin/Staff
Liz Reid bikes Monday through Friday to UC Berkeley's School of Public Health, where she works as admissions coordinator.

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As bicyclists rode to work last Thursday they were greeted with refreshments from local businesses as part of Bike to Work Day, one of several events in Berkeley aimed at promoting bicycling as a mode of transport.

This month is National Bike Month, and according to Kira Stoll, a transportation planner for the UC Berkeley parking and transportation department, bicycling may be on the rise in the campus community.

Stoll said 4,500 UC Berkeley faculty, staff and students commute to campus regularly by bicycle.

Bike sales at Missing Link, a bicycle store on Shattuck Avenue, were 31 percent higher last month compared to the same time last year, said Jeanne Kortz, who works at the store.

Some bicycle salespeople said they feel rising gas prices may give people more incentive to commute by bicycle.

"You could definitely make a correlation (between the two)," said Taylor Jaquysh, a salesperson at Mike's Bikes on University Avenue.

Anne Fulmer, a bookkeeper at Missing Link, said more people began coming to Missing Link when gas prices first began to rise.

Bill Nesper, the director of the League of American Bicyclists' Bicycle Friendly Community program, said he felt cutting down gas expenditures was just one of the many reasons to start bicycling.

"It's a solution to a lot of problems," Nesper said.

According to Nesper, bicycling is important in combating global warming and helping people exercise.

About 40 percent of daily trips that people make are less than two miles in length, and about 90 percent of those are made by car, he said.

Nesper said he felt bicycling can help to create more friendly, connected communities, a view that is echoed by local bicycle advocates.

"I think one thing that is rarely mentioned about biking is that you become more a part of your surroundings," said Judith Reich, an attendant at the Berkeley Bikestation at the Downtown Berkeley BART station.

Stoll said environmental consciousness in Berkeley plays a large role in bicycling's popularity in the city.

She also said she felt Berkeley was generally more accommodating to the various needs of cyclists than other cities.

On Bike to Work day last Thursday, local organizations and bicycle shops sponsored "energizer stations" throughout the city to distribute food, information and other products to bicyclists.

Other events, including the sixth annual Berkeley Bike Rodeo, sponsored by the City of Berkeley Public Health Division, have also taken place to help celebrate Bike Month.

The event promoted bicycle safety; volunteers distributed helmets and safety information to those who attended the event.

Over 200 free helmets were distributed to children at this year's event, said Amy Ranger, injury prevention program coordinator for the city of Berkeley.

Fulmer said she would like more people to see bicycling as an alternative to driving.

"There's an effort to reverse the driving trend that's happened in the last 20 years," she said.

She added that she hoped the events would encourage people to think of bicycling as a viable mode of transportation.

"It's a nationwide effort to promote bicycling as a means of getting to work," Fulmer said.


Contact Valerie Woolard at [email protected]

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