Bike Education and Bike Share Prompt Students to Seek out Bicycle Friendly Status
By Natalie Gille
League of American Bicyclists‘ Bicycle Friendly America program offers states, communities, businesses and universities an opportunity to be nationally recognized as bicycle-friendly. Minnesota was recently recognized as the #2 Bicycle Friendly State in the country, holding strong with this ranking for the fourth year in a row.
Minnesota holds claim to two Bicycle Friendly Universities (BFU): University of Minnesota (gold status) and Gustavus Adolphus College (bronze status). Students in Moorhead have noticed and want to catch up. Both Minnesota State University Moorhead (MSUM) and Concordia College are working on Bicycle Friendly University applications and intend to pursue recognition from the League of American Bicyclists this fall, with technical assistance support from BikeMN.
Sustainability groups at both MSUM and Concordia College are spearheading efforts on campus to become more bicycle-friendly. On Earth Day, both celebrated bikes by inviting Will Mackaman, member of the Minnesota GreenCorp working as an Active Transportation Coordinator with PartnerSHIP 4 Health, and myself on behalf of BikeMN, to participate in their eco-friendly activities on this day.
Earth Day bicycle activities kicked off at Concordia College, with Will and me presenting lightning talks to students and faculty in Knutson Campus Center during lunch. Will spoke about how he fell in love with bikes while studying abroad in Groningen, the Netherlands, and I gave an overview of bicycling in the bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Community of Bemidji that I call home!
“Working with Concordia and MSUM on their bicycling events has been the most fun I have had with a job in a long time,” said Will. “The students at both schools and in both environmental clubs are so passionate about the Earth and nature, and I wish I could’ve been that passionate sooner in school. I really feel these two schools are leading the way for Moorhead to become a more bicycle-friendly and eco-friendly town in the future. We’ll be amazed to see how much this city changes in the next 10 years.”
MSUM incorporated their bicycle activities in the afternoon by offering students and faculty an opportunity to attend the BikeMN course “Bike Basics for Students” in the campus mall. This course offering was made possible by sponsorship from the MSUM Green Dragons, the local sustainability group on campus, who were excited to include bikes as part of their Earth Day celebration. We had a bonus attendee at our Bike Basics for Students course. Sarah Watson Curry, Director of Operations for Great Rides, attended the course, shared information about the new local bike share program and fielded questions from students.
I chose to wrap up the afternoon of bicycle-friendly activities by going on a bike ride and tour of the Fargo-Moorhead Bicycle Workshop with Minnesota GreenCorps members Will Mackaman and Stephanie Reynolds.
Momentum for bicycling continues to grow in the region. “I grew up around bikes,” said Kim Haley, a Concordia College student majoring in math and chemistry. “My dad has always biked to work no matter the weather. I really started to understand how they worked last summer though. I volunteered a bit at the Fargo Community Bike Shop and learned a lot from doing that. I actually got a bike from that workshop, so that is what I have been using. I mainly bike for fun and to get a little exercise.”
BikeMN is excited to partner with both MSUM and Concordia College in their pursuit of Bicycle Friendly University status. We are looking forward to bringing the new Bike Basics for Students course beyond Moorhead to universities throughout Minnesota to increase confidence and safety for students riding on the roads for a variety of leisure activities and for transportation to work and school!