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Bicycling Tue Apr 22 2014
By Nick Wright
If you're a college student in Chicago who bikes to campus, this is your week to shine. Don't ride much, or at all? Air up the tires of that Schwinn 10-speed, or grab a Divvy bike. It's Bike2Campus Week.
During this week (April 21-25), Bike2Campus Week is part collegiate competition, part challenge that encourages students from ten local colleges and universities to use two wheels for trips to and from class. At the end of the week, the school with the highest participation percentage will earn a winning title. Prizes, too! The top pedaler at each campus gets a one-year Divvy membership, and the top rider overall earns a four-year Divvy membership with his or her photo featured on divvybikes.com.
It's not just about logging trips, however. You only have to bike once during Bike2Campus Week (event part way) for it to count as a percentage of the school's enrollment. It's an easy way to get around, get fit and reduce emissions. Social media is one way Bike2Campus is tracking progress, so make sure to tag photos, posts and tweets with #Bike2Campus. A winning tagged photo on Facebook could earn you a photoshoot with Divvy.
Bike2Campus Week is organized by the Chicagoland Network for Sustainability in Higher Education (CNSHE), a network of institutions working to promote sustainability and accelerate climate action in the region. Promoting cycling among college students is one way for CNSHE to translate sustainability into action.
But there are some challenges to reaching out to students, especially this time of year, according to John Wawrzaszek, Columbia College's sustainability manager and coordinator for Bike2Campus Week (and a Gapers Block contributor). Students have their heads in the books, and are preparing for post-college careers. "In Chicago, biking has a stigma over safety and the city has focused on making complete streets for biking with protected bike lanes, bike parking areas, support of Divvy, etc.," he says in an email. "Bike2Campus was looking for a way to engage students and become aware that biking can be fun and safe at the same time."
To that end, Bike2Campus is asking students to take the Illinois Bike Safety Quiz on its website, and each participating college can schedule events to address bike safety. (Pro tip: If you take the quiz and post your certificate on social media, you're eligible for more prizes.)
Biking to campus at any Chicagoland metro campus can be challenging for other reasons, too, aside from the weather. Students with a prepaid UPass can get comfortable taking the CTA. Plus, for those who live on campus, walking might make more sense.
"Holding this as a one week event aids to concisely cover all the bases before people tune out or become overloaded. The weeklong event will hopefully support an ongoing routine that participants of the event adopt," Wawrzaszek writes.
Divvy Bikes, one of the event's sponsors, is ready for increased activity at stations around campuses, especially as Chicago approaches warmer temps. It's also Divvy Week, which offers discounts to encourage increased spring ridership.
"With all of this happening in addition to Bike2Campus Week, we're prepared for increased ridership and will be monitoring stations closely," says Hannah Helbert, spokeswoman for Divvy Bikes.
Bike2Campus Week will end with Friday's Critical Mass, the ad hoc ride that takes hundreds of cyclists through downtown Chicago on the last Friday of each month.
Participating schools include City Colleges of Chicago, Columbia College Chicago, University of Chicago, University of Illinois-Chicago, Loyola University Chicago, Roosevelt University, Dominican University, Northwestern University, Illinois Institute of Technology and the School of the Art Institute Chicago.
For all the intel, visit Bike2Campus.com.
Nick Wright is the secretary of Half Acre Cycling. Gapers Block is a team sponsor.