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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

ODU Named Bronze Bicycle Friendly University by League of American Bicyclists

Bicycling is booming, and more and more young people are getting on their bikes instead of in their cars. That's thanks in part to universities like Old Dominion taking steps to make riding safer and more comfortable for students, faculty, staff and visitors to the campus. On April 15, the League of American Bicyclists announced the latest round of Bicycle Friendly Universities (BFU) and ODU was named a Bronze BFU.

"College campuses are natural places to integrate bicycling - and Old Dominion University recognizes the small steps needed to make bicycling a safe and easy option for students and staff," said league president Andy Clarke. "Young people are driving less and riding more, and ODU has embraced that trend."

The BFU program is revolutionizing the way universities evaluate their efforts in sustainability, transportation options and campus dwellers' quality of life, while allowing administrators to benchmark their progress toward improving their bicycle-friendliness. With this impressive round, there are now 58 BFUs in 30 states across America. The Bronze BFC award recognizes ODU's commitment to improving conditions for bicycling through investment in bicycling promotion, education programs, infrastructure and pro-bicycling policies.

ODU was recognized for its new bike share program, Bike ODU, which was introduced at the start of the fall 2012 semester with a fleet of 48 bicycles. Any students, staff or faculty who are members of the Student Recreation Center can check out the bikes at no charge. The bikes come with a U-lock, helmet and basket, and may be borrowed for up to one week.

"The philosophy behind a bike share program is to advocate using bikes to commute rather than driving vehicles, and to use this mode of transportation instead of driving a car from one location on campus to another," said Eddie Hill, assistant professor of human movement sciences, who co-founded the program with Bridget Nemeth, ODU's director of Recreation and Wellness. "This helps decrease carbon emissions, increase physical activity and create a sense of community."

Bike share programs have been launched all across the country, and many colleges and universities have adopted such models to address both parking and environmental issues, said Hill, who has researched the development with other colleagues.

Since ODU's program began, Bike ODU has tallied more than 3,240 "user days." A user day, Hill said, is calculated by multiplying each time a member of the campus community uses a bike by the number of days it is borrowed (maximum of seven days).

"I am really excited that our grassroots initiative, Bike ODU, has been nationally recognized in its first year of operation," Hill said.

The BFU program provides a roadmap to building a Bicycle Friendly University and the application has become a rigorous and educational tool. The five levels of the award - diamond, platinum, gold, silver and bronze - provide a clear incentive for universities to continuously improve.

To learn more about the free BFU program, visit bikeleague.org/university.

The Bicycle Friendly Community, Bicycle Friendly State, Bicycle Friendly Business and Bicycle Friendly University programs are generously supported by program partners Bikes Belong and Trek Bicycle's One World, Two Wheels Campaign. To learn more about building a Bicycle Friendly America, visit http://www.bikeleague.org/programs/bicyclefriendlyamerica/

The League of American Bicyclists promotes bicycling for fun, fitness and transportation, and works through advocacy and education for a bicycle-friendly America. The league represents the interests of America's 57 million bicyclists, including its 300,000 members and affiliates. For more information or to support the league, visit www.bikeleague.org.