May is National Bike Month, and the University’s signature event is this week’s Bike to Sac State Day. University Transportation and Parking Services (UTAPS) is hosting a two-wheeler festival from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, May 6, at the Guy West Bridge plaza. It’s BYOB (bring your own bike).
Cyclists can sign up at the UTAPS booth to log their May miles. Anyone who pledges to ride at least 50 miles this month will receive a free Sac State bike light or water bottle, courtesy of UTAPS. Associated Students Inc.’s Peak Adventures program will offer free mini tune-ups, and the Sacramento State Police Department will register and photograph bikes for easy identification in case of theft. In addition, folks from Sac State Sustainability and the Power Inn Alliance will be available to talk about the benefits of a sustainable lifestyle and choosing alternative transportation.
If you think you’re seeing more bikes coming onto campus these days, you’re right. A bike count performed in late April shows that ridership has risen more than 25 percent since 2012.
Tony Lucas, UTAPS senior director, thinks the increase is due in part to the new network of dedicated, high-visibility bike pathways and additional secured bike-parking compounds on campus. The green pathways make it safer for cyclists and drivers to coexist and connect the campus to the City of Sacramento’s bike pathways on Carlson Drive/J Street and along Elvas Avenue at the Hornet Tunnel.
“I think the increase in ridership has a lot to do with rolling out the welcome mat for cyclists,” Lucas says. “There is a direct correlation.”
On April 22, civil engineering students were posted at five locations on campus from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., making note of every cyclist coming into Sac State. They counted the bikes entering from J Street (174), the residence halls (48), the Guy West Bridge (938), State University Drive at College Town Drive (208), and the Hornet Tunnel (391), for a total of 1,759.
That was up considerably from the 1,364 incoming cyclists noted during the April 2012 census. Both counts took place on a Wednesday, says Ghazan Khan, a professor of transportation engineering, but in 2012, no data were collected on cyclists coming onto the main campus from the residence halls.
“The good news is that bicycle use has kept up with our enrollment increase, which could be attributed to the infrastructure improvements (such as the new pathways),” says Khan. “The additional students could have decided to drive, but they have not. If nothing else, the improvements to the bicycle infrastructure have provided cyclists and pedestrians with a safer experience on campus.”
To further ensure pedestrians’ safety in the central campus, cyclists and skateboarders must dismount and walk.
Sac State’s commitment to safety extends to the bicycles themselves. Free, secure parking for 750 bicycles is available at bike/board compounds near the Guy West Bridge, at the corner of Moraga Way and Sinclair Road, and just north of Benicia Hall. Community service officers (CSOs) generally are on duty during the academic year from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday. In addition to monitoring the compounds, CSOs can register and photograph bicycles.
“The compounds have worked well, and there has yet to be a reported theft during the staffed hours of operation,” says Sacramento State Police Chief Mark Iwasa. “We also encourage all riders to register their bikes at the compounds.”
Additional bike parking can be found at racks and lockers scattered throughout the campus. Bikes should be properly locked before being left at those unmonitored locations.
“The bike-planning task force assessed the need and built an infrastructure to support sustainable alternative transportation for the Sac State community,” Lucas says.
UTAPs is working with the Office of Public Affairs and Advocacy to develop short educational videos that will show cyclists how to use the bike pathways (maneuvering through a Bike Box, for example), how to best secure a bike with a lock, and how to ride safely in traffic.
In addition, UTAPS is working with Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates (SABA) and Sac State’s Office of Institutional Research to develop a map of recommended bike routes to campus. Lucas expects the map to be completed in time for the Fall 2015 semester. – Dixie Reid