illustration by Hiram Chimid

On its fundamental campus in Storrs, it’s clear that the College of Connecticut might be a a lot friendlier place for bicycles: a cleaner, safer, sooner and extra inexpensive different to automobiles. 

Earlier than typically tearing into the UConn Administration, let’s acknowledge among the methods biking is inspired in Storrs. There are a variety of bicycle racks round campus in entrance of assorted educational buildings, dorms and even on buses. The Rec Heart operates a comparatively inexpensive cycle rental program. Riders may also pursue cycle repairs with the Recreation Heart, or with Storrs Heart Cycle, in Downtown Storrs.  

Additional, the biking group at UConn is vibrant. As famous on the UConn Transportation Companies web site’s bicycling web page, the Mansfield Bike Commuter Membership affords membership-based indoor bike storage choices, key card entry after hours, showers and lockers and the commuter advocacy group Bike Mansfield companions with the Parks and Recreation division to show courses and workshops enhancing biking literacy and abilities. On the coverage stage, the UConn Bicycle Working Group, a subcommittee beneath the Transportation Advisory Committee, meets to debate and plan bicycle initiatives on campus.  

Bicycles are additionally allowed to traverse many alternative roads in Storrs. However right here, some infrastructural deficiencies are revealed.  

The UConn Workplace of Sustainability contains a Storrs bike map exhibiting the areas bikes might share with different site visitors on campus. The vast majority of car roads on campus are “shared roads” with bicycles, through which there isn’t a separate lane for cyclists and they’re anticipated to obey Connecticut’s ordinary legal guidelines, virtually at all times driving in the correct portion of the correct lane. Legally, they’ve entry to beneficiant area whereas being handed by automobiles from behind. Cyclists additionally share multi-modal “vast pedestrian paths” together with Fairfield manner, and some different roads within the middle of campus with many pedestrians and the occasional service or particular use car.  

Relating to designated bicycle lanes, South Eagleville Street contains a pretty vast but unprotected lane on either side, spanning from the sting of Downtown Storrs till the intersection with Maple Street. There’s one other unprotected lane on either side of North Eagleville Street earlier than the Guests Heart, persevering with to the correct alongside Discovery Drive till the Mansfield Purchasing Heart. Additional, a small portion of North Eagleville Street from the Guests Heart to Northwood Residences, in addition to Looking Lodge Street, Separatist Street, Birch Street and small strip on Route 44 embrace vast sidewalks which the Mansfield Bike Map designates as “multi-modal bike paths.”  

Above is the extent that cyclists are accommodated in Storrs. On most roads, cyclists should drive inside ft of automobiles, with curbs, forest, partitions or one other unfriendly entity to their proper. On the few multi-modal, automobile-exclusive paths on campus, cyclists are made to compete with pedestrians for area. There’s not one protected, separate lane on campus reserved particularly for bicycles.  

This atmosphere is one through which cyclists are subjected to pointless risks of collision with automobiles, pedestrians and the pure atmosphere. This leads far fewer folks, notably unskilled cyclists, to decide on bicycles as their methodology of commuting round campus – an incredible problem in a suburban state akin to Connecticut the place many individuals lack publicity to biking. Moreover, those that do select to cycle find yourself shifting far slower than if they’d distinctive areas, additionally slowing the pedestrians and automobiles they work together with. These inefficiencies exist even assuming there are zero collisions between cyclists and different vacationers.  

We also needs to word that the roads inside the Mansfield Bike Map solely cowl one portion of Mansfield. Off-campus, Bike Mansfield identifies a really small variety of “city designated bike routes” within the surrounding space, however this doesn’t point out any high quality of bicycle infrastructure. In actuality, the whole lot of Storrs Street, North and South Eagleville Street, Stafford Street and plenty of different roads in Mansfield service no less than tons of of commuters who determine between driving and biking on the idea of security and accessibility. If UConn needs to turn into extra bike pleasant, they’ll want stronger partnerships with the city of Mansfield on this problem. 

Infrastructure putting cyclists in the identical areas as pedestrians and automobiles creates the sensation that cyclists are inherently aggressive with different types of site visitors, and are a presence for non-cyclists to attempt to restrict. However in actuality, biking is extraordinarily essential to the well being of our transit system, and bicycle-friendly infrastructure in a given space makes dwelling and commuting to work and sophistication a way more pleasurable expertise.  

Each one that owns, rents or ideally simply borrows – if such a program might be carried out – a bicycle and makes use of this to commute is one much less automobile. Vehicles are ten instances the scale, cash and hazard of bicycles, and every automobile on campus is one other two tons of weight and dozens of sq. meters our infrastructure must accommodate. This implies extra repairs to car infrastructure, longer intersection wait instances, extra harmful accidents and much more congestion. Lowering the scale of the typical vehicle-per-commuter on campus would supply innumerable advantages for the group, and bicycle-friendly infrastructure is a improbable approach to accomplish this. 

Vehicles are direct causes of a big portion of the world’s greenhouse fuel emissions which contribute to the local weather disaster, and far of the world’s yearly preventable demise toll by means of auto accidents. A constructed atmosphere dominated by automobiles is one through which entry to transportation is decided by one’s capacity to afford proudly owning, sustaining and fueling a automobile, usually every day, making cycle-friendliness a major query of accessibility. Bicycling infrastructure is a measure of transportation justice and environmental justice in a group. 

Usually, the subject of missing bicycle infrastructure speaks to bigger points UConn has concerning the dominance of automobiles. If a possible success of transportation infrastructure at a university campus is the limitation of automobile site visitors to the skin of the campus and the precedence of other transit inside campus, Storrs fails on this class. 4 of essentially the most closely trafficked roads at UConn – Hillside Street, North Eagleville Street, Storrs Street and Mansfield Street – kind an oblong matrix essential to all campus transportation. The difficulty is that essentially the most vital roads on the whole campus are these roads, they usually give nice priority to auto-traffic over different site visitors, particularly cyclists. A couple of central roads, akin to these, are sometimes mandatory for auto-commuters to succeed in designated parking tons.  

Current land makes use of and highway networks already lay a framework for a closely bicycle and pedestrian campus the place there may be far much less car infrastructure, the place public transportation is uninhibited and speedy, the place cyclists and pedestrians have loads of area for their very own distinctive roads, the place site visitors on the whole is way sooner, the place the danger of accidents is dramatically decrease for all commuters, and the place UConn is extra accessible and extra environmentally pleasant. 

However till we notice this formidable imaginative and prescient, pedestrians should familiarize themselves with the guidelines and procedures of biking in Mansfield, for his or her security and that of others. Policymakers at UConn must accomplice carefully with the City of Mansfield to accommodate many extra potential commuter cyclists, with the joyful byproduct of enhancing biking infrastructure in Mansfield typically. Policymakers ought to prioritize designated indoor bicycle storage on campus, and the mixing of schooling about bicycles and campus transportation on the whole to durations akin to pupil orientation and Week of Welcome.  

Maybe most concretely, way more critical consideration needs to be given to distinctive, particular and guarded bicycle lanes on all main roads on campus. This can draw many extra folks in direction of a wholesome, inexpensive, protected and environment friendly mode of transit that’s higher for us and higher for the environment.  

This Editorial Was produced with the recommendation and enter of BOLD scholar Phoebe Mrozinski, whose initiatives have targeted on rising the attention and accessibility of bicycling among the many UConn group and others in Connecticut. Extra info may be discovered right here in a life characteristic masking her endeavors.

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