Rice receives ‘silver’ distinction for bicycle-friendly campus
The League of American Bicyclists awarded Rice a silver designation as a Bicycle Friendly University, a place up from the bronze designation received in 2017. The silver designation will be active until 2025.
Lisa Lin, former transportation demand management manager at Rice, coordinated the re-application process along with help from Leadership Rice Mentorship Experience intern Trisha Gupta. Lin, who is now the first director of sustainability for Harris County, said that she helped implement the League of American Bicyclists’ suggestions for improvement from 2017, and focused on those improvements in the new application.
“It was really about telling our story of how we have improved since 2017,” Lin said. “In this application, we included a longer narrative section in the supplemental section which showcased photos from events around campus.”
The most substantial improvement to the application was the implementation of bike share stations and the outreach programs related to it, according to Lin. The stations have eased access to bicycles on campus, along with increasing convenience and financial accessibility through discounted prices.
According to Richard Johnson, executive director for sustainability, many bicycle safety improvements contributed to the recent application, including working with local government agencies to improve safety on the perimeter of campus.
“Many members of the Rice community have also been deeply engaged in advocating for improved safety and amenities for cyclists, not just on campus but also for areas adjacent to campus,” Johnson said.
To reach a Gold designation, Lin said she believes it will require a focus on engineering and equity efforts related to biking on campus.
“This could be related to more protected cycle lanes on and around campus that ideally would be connected to places where people live or want to go,” Lin said. “In terms of equity, this could entail understanding the barriers to access, like providing subsidized BCycle memberships or helping cover costs for bike rentals from Rice Bikes.”
Johnson said the silver certification is not an endpoint, but rather a reflection of Rice’s progress over the last several years.
“We’re well aware that there’s quite a bit of work ahead of us,” Johnson said. “However, for Rice to receive a silver certification in the Bicycle Friendly University program given Houston’s car culture is pretty remarkable.”
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