Ole Miss Named Bronze-Level Bicycle Friendly University

League of American Bicyclists recognizes UM efforts to advance cycling on campus

Students return to campus for the first day of the 2015 Spring Semester. Photo by Nathan Latil/Ole Miss Communications

Students return to campus for the first day of the 2015 Spring Semester. Photo by Nathan Latil/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s continued efforts to improve bicycle infrastructure and advocacy on campus have been recognized by the League of American Bicyclists with a bronze-level Bicycle Friendly University award.

The award comes after a year of implementing recommendations from the league, which were passed along after Ole Miss received an honorable mention BFU award in 2014. UM is the only university in the state to receive such a designation.

“We are very excited to reach this level,” said Mike Harris, UM director of parking and transportation. “This award reflects the work of many individuals, departments and groups on campus. We still have work to do, but we have made great strides to support a stronger bike community and more complete network of routes and amenities. The designation helps reinforce our commitment to continue to move forward with these important initiatives.”

Over the past year, the university has made several efforts to promote cycling on campus. The UM Bike Shop rented its entire fleet of rental bicycles to students, faculty and staff through the Rebel Pedals Bike Share program for the semester, and it has begun offering bicycle maintenance workshops.

In June, the new Active Transportation Advisory Committee spearheaded the installation of a Complete Streets Pop Up project on University Avenue, to experience a new street configuration designed for all users of the road, including cyclists, pedestrians and motorists. The committee, made up of faculty, staff and students, advises the university on issues related to active transportation modes and coordinates with relevant departments, including Facilities Planning and the Department of Parking and Transportation.

“The overall goal is to make biking a more accessible mode of transportation for students, faculty and staff,” said Rebecca Vorisek, a junior international studies major from New Orleans who is working as a sustainable transportation intern for the Office of Sustainability and the Department of Parking and Transportation. “One of the big areas that we are focusing on now is safety, both for cyclists and motorists. I’d personally like to make it so that people feel more comfortable biking on campus, especially incoming freshman and people who are considering biking for the first time.”

With the designation, UM joins more than 127 BFUs in 42 states and the District of Columbia working to foster a more bike-friendly culture on campus. The league evaluates universities on bicycle-related engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement, evaluation and planning. Institutions that receive a BFU designation are eligible to receive honorable mention, bronze, silver, gold or platinum levels.

“In its fourth year, we’ve seen the Bicycle Friendly University program reach an exciting level of growth and momentum, as more and more campuses support bicycling in new and innovative ways,” said Amelia Neptune, the group’s Bicycle Friendly University program manager. “From bike storage inside dorm rooms to bicycle-powered music festivals, we applaud this round of BFUs for raising the standard of what a bicycle-friendly campus looks like.”

Moving forward, the university will have access to a variety of free tools and technical assistance from the league to continue working to become more bicycle-friendly. To learn more about biking at UM, visit http://bike.olemiss.edu/. To learn more about the Bicycle Friendly University program, visit http://www.bikeleague.org/university.