UI on way to becoming a 'Bicycle Friendly University'

UI on way to becoming a 'Bicycle Friendly University'

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The Bicycle Friendly University (BFU) designations were announced this week by the League of American Bicyclists, with the University of Iowa receiving an Honorable Mention.

Participants in a campus bicycle ride sponsored by 350.org, an organization that advocates for climate change awareness.
Participants in a campus bicycle ride sponsored by 350.org, an organization that advocates for climate change awareness. Photo provided by UI Office of Sustainability.

“The BFU designation will give us some great guidance on becoming a more bike-friendly campus. It provides an excellent framework for moving ahead,” says Liz Christiansen, director of sustainability at the UI. “While we hoped for a higher designation, it was an honest evaluation of where we are today. It’s an honor to be included in the BFU listings. By submitting the application, it shows that we have the interest and desire to make this a safe, accessible environment for cyclists."

The program recognizes colleges and universities that create exceptional environments where bicycling can thrive and provides a roadmap and technical assistance to create great campuses for bicycling.

Providing alternative transportation options to reduce the carbon impact of single occupant vehicles is part of the UI’s 2020 Vision sustainability goals, Christiansen adds.

Over the past two years, efforts to promote and support bicycling at the UI have included:

  • Forming the Bicycle Advocacy Group, working with Iowa City Bike Library and community.
  • Adoption of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Designsilver minimum building standards to include bicycle-related infrastructure for new construction and renovation.
  • Annual evaluation of bike rack use on campus.
  • Increase in bike-related events on campus such as bike rides and bike-to-campus events.
  • Created the bike.uiowa.edu website as a resource for students and the community.

Several improvements are being planned for the coming year:

  • Offer a bike repair course and train instructors to teach bicycle safety and skills
  • Develop a plan for bike repair stations on campus
  • Form a bike advocacy student organization
  • Increase education about bicycle resources, especially to freshmen during orientation

The league’s comprehensive BFU application evaluates applicants’ efforts to promote bicycling in five primary areas: engineering, encouragement, education, enforcement and evaluation/planning. A college or university must demonstrate achievements in each of the five categories in order to be considered for an award at the bronze, silver, gold or platinum levels. Institutions with more significant achievements in these areas receive higher awards.

Of the 19 universities that applied this year, the second year of the program, 10 received BFU designations. The UI is the first university in Iowa to receive an honorable mention; none has a bronze, silver, gold, or platinum designation.

Promoting bicycling is a simple solution to many challenges and improves sustainability, physical activity, and quality of life. The Bicycle Friendly America program has helped communities, businesses, states, and universities improve conditions for bicycling, creating the types of places where people want to live, work, and visit. The City of Iowa City received a bronze designation as a Bicycle Friendly Community in 2011.


Liz Christiansen, UI Office of Sustainability, 319-335-5517


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