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UNL named a 'Bicycle Friendly University'

A Campus Rec employee completes a repair in the UNL Bike Shop. (Courtesy photo)
A Campus Rec employee completes a repair in the UNL Bike Shop. (Courtesy photo)

A campus effort started two years ago has led UNL to be named a Bicycle Friendly University by the League of American Bicyclists.

The honor — a silver award — was announced April 16. Only 58 universities in 30 states have earned a Bike Friendly University award. The Big Ten Conference now leads the nation with eight bike-friendly members. Of the eight Big Ten institutions, three are at the silver level, with the other five earning bronze.

"We are ecstatic that we have received this award, but at the same time we don't want it to be an end to the work that we have started," said Jordan Messerer, an assistant director in Campus Recreation who has helped lead the Bike Friendly UNL program. "There is still a lot to do that could put us over the top and closer to earning gold or even platinum honors."

The Bicycle Friendly University program is designed to help universities take steps to make riding safer and more comfortable for students, faculty, staff and visitors. The awards recognize efforts to improve bicycling conditions through promotion, education programs, infrastructure and pro-bicycling policies.

There are five levels of awards -- diamond, platinum, gold, silver and bronze. Stanford University is the highest rated institution, earning the platinum award. Also, only two universities have reached the gold standard.

Messerer said UNL earned the silver award largely through campus education efforts and reorganizing bike-related policies onto a single website, http://bike.unl.edu.

"When I came to UNL three years ago, information about biking-related policies was spread out on all sorts of websites," said Messerer. "By creating bike.unl.edu, we were able to create a clearinghouse for UNL biking information."

UNL also worked with the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department to earn a grant that allowed Messerer and three others to become certified bike instructors. Those four now organize and teach Campus Recreation's bicycle traffic safety courses to students, faculty and staff.

Messerer said support from campus administrators was also a key component in earning the silver designation.

Looking ahead, the Bike UNL committee plans to expand campus education efforts as they begin to pursue a gold award.

"In terms of cycling and pedestrian movement on campus, we have a great road map being developed in the new master plan," he said. "It's a great time to start looking at the routes we have on campus and how we can improve them for everyone."

For more information about the award, go to http://go.unl.edu/m0t.

— Troy Fedderson, University Communications