Transportation, including our daily commutes, is one of the largest global emitters of greenhouse gases. It’s also the emitter that can feel most personal. Many value their morning commute as a rare moment of peace and quiet, others enjoy the ability to hop on a plane to visit relatives, and nothing beats the freedom of taking a spontaneous road trip.
Due to these personal connections, changing up a daily commute can be a bit more difficult than adopting other sustainability habits. In addition to a personal connection, much of what determines how someone commutes has to do with convenience – time, stress level, and flexibility. Daily commuters may not consider their options outside of driving their own car to work, largely because, in many cases, other options aren’t accessible or available.
WashU employees and students are in luck, however. Not only do we have a variety of sustainable transportation options, but both WUSM and Danforth campuses have been recognized by the League of American Bicyclists, a national grassroots bicycle advocacy organization.
In January of 2022, the School of Medicine received a Silver-level rating through their first submission as a Bicycle Friendly Business; Danforth received a Gold-level rating as a Bicycle Friendly University (BFU) in 2020, upgrading from a Silver rating in 2017. For WUSM, certifying as a Bicycle Friendly Business (BFB) was the clear choice due to the high employee to student ratio. BFU certification focuses highly on the student experience, while BFB certification focuses highly on the employee and visitor experience.
“We are pleased to celebrate new and renewing Bicycle Friendly Businesses, as these awards are a reminder that our vision of an America where every person can safely and easily choose to bike is rooted in every part of a community, including business leaders,” said Bill Nesper, executive director of the League of American Bicyclists. “As we embark on a new year primed with opportunities to bettering bicycling, we are proud to see businesses that clearly care about helping us get more people on bikes, not only because they know it’s good for their business, but because they know that Bicycle Friendly Businesses play a crucial role in connecting the people who bike in their community to jobs, schools, essential services, daily destinations, and so much more.”
A notable project came to fruition in tandem with the BFB application. Office of Sustainability intern, Julia Feller, created an interactive GIS map that allows the user to navigate through locations of bike-related amenities like convenient bike parking, fix-it stations, and shower facilities. Additionally, WUSM offers free bike tune-ups to the campus population during the spring and fall.
Staff within Operations & Facilities Management are using the feedback from the Bicycle Friendly Business application as a basis for the creation of a four year bicycle plan, which will include implementing the following:
- an online feedback form for bike facilities and amenities;
- creating biking programming in conjunction with diversity-focused groups on campus;
- hosting Bike to Work Day;
- creating structures to track progress of bicycle-related goals;
- a wider distribution of information on appropriate bike locking and safety.
Through these initiatives, the School of Medicine aims to increase the number of people who bike to campus at least twice a week from 5% to 10%.
WUSM joins 32 new and renewing BFBs in the League’s latest round of BFB awards and 1,471 total current BFBs across the country, all united in a commitment to transform American workplaces to be more welcoming to customers and employees who bike. The Bicycle Friendly Business award recognizes an organization’s contributions over months and years to the movement to build a Bicycle Friendly America for everyone.