The Office of Sustainability is excited to announce the start of a new active transportation support initiative, the Bike Commuter Buddy System! This mentoring program aims to support and encourage members of the Washington University community to commute by bike with a simple concept: connecting experienced and less experienced bike commuters that live in the same area, so they can share their commute. With this pilot, we hope to increase the participation in our alternative transportation programs, one of the major objectives of the University’s Strategic Plan for Sustainable Operations.
Even though plenty of people are enticed by the idea of biking to work, only a few of them actually adopt biking as their main mode of transportation. The reasons for this gap are numerous: it can be scary to ride on roads with cars, people don’t always know what to do if a flat occurs, and the best routes to ride on are not even necessarily obvious! According to the University’s 2015 Mobility Survey, only 4% of Staff and 10% of Faculty bike to work, compared with 28% of students, who tend to live closer. Distance doesn’t have to be an object!
The Bike Commuter Buddy System aims to encourage people to make the leap with the idea of “strength in numbers”. In addition to being and feeling safer, biking in a group allows new bike commuters to gain experience while having the opportunity to learn from long-time bikers. Hopefully after a couple trips the newbies will have gained the confidence to ride independently, and can even become bike buddies themselves one day!
Call for Bike Commuter Buddies
We are looking for Washington University faculty, staff, and students who regularly commute by bike and would be willing to serve as ambassadors to less experienced bike commuters, as well as those who are interested trying it for the first time. Being a Bike Commuter Buddy involves sharing your commute with other bikers, serving as an example on the road and supporting interested bikers by answering questions and providing tips on bike commuting.
Buddies’ first names, WashU email addresses, and commute summaries will appear on the Sustainability website alongside a short bio. New bike commuters will be able to contact Buddies for advice on bike commuting gear, routes, and any other concerns they may have, as well as to join in on one of their commutes upon request. The Office of Sustainability will organize one bike-to-work day per semester, and will enlist Buddies to help guide newer commuters in their area build their confidence on the ride to work.
Bike Commuter Buddies will receive a free t-shirt and priority access to free tune-ups on campus during Active Transportation Month. Their offices will also be eligible for extra points toward their Green Office certification (if applicable).
Sign up to be a WashU Bike Commuter Buddy by filling out this form!