Exciting things are happening at Berea College pertaining to bicycle use and new cycling infrastructure. Not only is cycling to and from class a convenient form of transportation for students who live farther away from campus, it also encourages reduced use of fossil fuels and saves money in the long-run for students and the college. Since vehicle parking is so limited at Berea College, providing secure and easily-accessible bicycling parking has been a top priority for the Alternative Transportation Coordinator.
Additionally, several new bicycle repair stations have been added to campus, to provide students who ride their bikes on a regular basis with the means to repair their own bicycles for no cost. Four stations have currently been installed. They are located between Fairchild and Alumni Building, at Clover Bottom (where the Office of Sustainability is housed), in the EcoVillage, and by the Blueridge Residence Hall.
Annette Dangerfield, an Office of Sustainability staff member, recently visited the Netherlands in a study abroad semester long excursion, funded in part by the college and the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship. She had this to say about her desire to learn more about infrastructure that serves cyclists well: “Although the main portion of [my final] project will be the practical application of my learning abroad in a way that benefits my fellow students, it would also incorporate an aspect of Sustainability that is often ignored. Even a simple thing like biking can be liberating to people who would otherwise not have the ability to travel. If paths are well structured and utilized effectively, biking can be safer than walking, especially for women. Biking is also better for one’s health than
sitting in a car, faster than walking, and more economical as there are fewer on-going purchases than those associated with owning a car (i.e., one initial investment of the bike itself, plus some repairs, as opposed to buying a car and having to purchase gas for it every few weeks). This encompasses the aspect of Sustainability that I will refer to as human dignity. Sustainability cannot just be about building more efficient vehicles and environmentally friendly tools. It must also empower people to make personal decisions that improve their health along with the health of their habitat. It is this act of self-determination that I want to encourage in my peers, so that they engage in sustainable practices that benefit them personally every day for the rest of their lives.”
By continuing her work at the Office of Sustainability and collaborating with the college to develop more marketable models of bicycle sharing, Annette, will attempt to do as she said, and provide students with a choice that should benefit them greatly now and in the years to come.