OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi has been recognized for its efforts to support and improve cycling on campus with an honorable mention nod as a Bicycle Friendly University from the League of American Bicyclists.
Ole Miss is the first university in the state to receive this designation.
“The designation recognizes that we are making an effort to improve the culture of biking on campus,” said Sara Douglass, post-baccalaureate fellow in the UM Office of Sustainability who is focusing on biking as part of her yearlong fellowship. “We’re looking forward to receiving feedback from the League of American Bicyclists about how to further these improvements.”
Recent efforts on the UM campus include the opening of the newly renovated, full-service Ole Miss Bike Shop, which offers repairs and maintenance for cyclists by a fulltime bike mechanic, and the expansion of the Rebel Pedals Bike Share program, through which students, faculty and staff can rent bicycles for $25 a semester. The bike share fleet will expand this semester from 100 bicycles, all of which are rented, to 175 bikes.
“We have a waiting list for those who want bikes,” said Mike Harris, UM director of parking and transportation. “That demand is there, and we want to meet it.”
Twenty-five new bicycles will also be distributed to campus departments as part of the university’s wellness initiative, RebelWell, to promote the use of bikes among faculty and staff during the workday.
Moving forward, education for pedestrians, motorists and cyclists will be a focus of the university’s biking efforts, Harris said.
The Bicycle Friendly University program, a branch of Bicycle Friendly America, evaluates universities in five areas: engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement and evaluation and planning. Universities that receive the Bicycle Friendly designation can earn honorable mention, bronze, silver, gold or platinum status. The League of American Bicyclists then provides feedback to help universities reach higher status in the program.
“Going through the process helps us identify our relative strengths and weaknesses when it comes to being a bike-friendly university,” said UM assistant professor of psychology Kate Kellum, a member of the working group that applied for BFU status and member of the Oxford Pathways Commission. “I think it’s also important to celebrate some of the successes that we’ve had on campus and in town in improving bike availability.”
To learn more about biking at UM, visit http://bike.olemiss.edu/.