On Oct. 22, Campus Sustainability Day, the League of American Bicyclists recognized MIT with a silver Bicycle Friendly University award. Silver BFUs are those colleges and universities that are welcoming to bikes and successfully promote a safe, well-managed bike culture around campus. With this designation, MIT joins a group of 100 bike-friendly colleges and universities in 37 states and Washington, D.C.
“Campus leaders are recognizing the real-time and long-term impact that a culture of bicycling can create,” said Andy Clarke, President of the League. “We applaud today’s new round of colleges and universities for investing in a more sustainable future for the country and a healthier future for their staff, students, and surrounding communities.”
Encouraging bike culture on campus
To support the ever-growing bike community at MIT, the Institute provides amenities such as secured bicycle cages, subsidized Hubway memberships, and eight Fix-It Stations around campus.
“MIT is eager to encourage bicycling as an excellent transportation option,” explains Larry Brutti, Manager of Parking and Transportation. “By offering more services for our bike community, we have improved campus accessibility and sustainability.”
Bicycle incentives include:
- MIT employees and students can buy subsidized annual Hubway bike share memberships for $25 (regularly $85) and ride at a discounted hourly rate.
- Bicycle commuters can enjoy a safe and efficient ride thanks to the eight on-campus Fix-It Stations equipped with air pumps and basic hand tools such as screwdrivers, wrenches, and tire levers (locations listed on the MIT Bicycling web page).
- Full-time MIT employees who commute to work by bicycle and are not enrolled in another MIT commuting benefit program are eligible for reimbursements related to their commute.
- The MIT Parking and Transportation Office offers a bike registration program to deter theft and to help recover stolen bikes.
- Cyclists can sign up to receive and share news or tips related to bicycle commuting by joining the MIT Bike email list. Subscribe by emailing email@example.com.
- For community members who don’t yet own a bike, the annual MIT Bike Auction provides a low-cost purchasing option.
- Full details for these programs are available online.
Innovations in cycling
The bicycling culture also powers design and engineering projects in labs and classrooms across MIT. The D-Lab's EC.723 (Cycle Ventures) course explores ways in which bicycle technology can apply human power to specific labor challenges and improve economic outlooks in underserved communities around the world. In the architectural 4.S42 (Building Technologies - Comfort in Motion), students design strategies to promote outdoor human-powered mobility and help create real-time solutions.
Bicycle-related inventions and projects by MIT students, researchers, and faculty reflect the community’s innovative spirit. Examples include a “blicycle” for the visually impaired, an all-terrain wheelchair constructed from standard bicycle parts, and the Copenhagen Wheel, which transforms an ordinary bicycle into a hybrid e-bike by capturing the energy released during cycling and braking and saving this energy for use when the cyclist needs a boost. The Wheel also maps pollution levels, traffic congestion, and road conditions in real-time.
Bicycle Friendly America
Moving forward, MIT will have access to a variety of free tools and technical assistance from the League of American Bicyclists to become even more bicycle-friendly. The League hopes to encourage more colleges and universities to invest in bicycling as a way to decrease their carbon footprints, improve community health, and reduce traffic congestion.
The League of American Bicyclists strives to make bicycling safe and more comfortable for all people by combining the knowledge of hundreds of engineers, government officials, and bicycle advocates. The Bicycle Friendly America program provides a roadmap for improving bicycling conditions and the direct assistance to make it happen.