Students looking to get a handle on their carbon footprint could do so during the campus’ inaugural Bike Week.
Starting last Monday, students were encouraged to ride their bikes to campus to receive free food, raffle tickets and bike services.
Each day leading up to Earth Day on Saturday featured new activities, including bike registration with the University Police Department, free bike washes and locks, tune-ups and a bike-friendly mural tour.
“Bike Week is a chain reaction. Once you go to one event, you want to go to them all,” said sophomore Cameron Smith.
Bike Week was created and hosted by members of the Department of Sustainable Initiatives, a department within Student Government’s executive branch. The organizations partnered with the University Police Department to encourage safety and sustainability on campus through biking.
The inspiration for the event came from the famous Daytona Bike Week, which is held each March for motorcycle enthusiasts. Although the USFSP Bike Week was the motorcycle’s engine-less relative, the goal was the same: to create buzz and excitement about biking.
“We want to really create a biking culture on campus,” said Alana Todd, the director of sustainable initiatives.
By encouraging alternative modes of transportation over the use of cars, the Department of Sustainable Initiatives hoped to get one step closer to the goals outlined in its climate action plan: carbon neutrality by 2050.
The move towards alternative forms of transportation could prove to be one of the biggest factors that influence the school’s ability to meet its sustainability goals.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average passenger vehicle emits about 4.7 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. That’s about the amount of CO2 it takes 215,000 trees a year to consume.
For a campus where 86 percent of students commute, the environmental impact of cars is huge.
“Helping our environment doesn’t mean you have to install solar panels or save the sea turtles — it’s something as simple as riding your bike,” said Todd. “It’s something every student has the power to do.”
A new bike share program will be re-implemented on campus and will be free for students to use in the upcoming fall semester.
Kate Walker, another member of the Department of Sustainability, hopes that this new bike share program will get more students excited about biking.
“Even if they’re not able to bike to campus maybe students will see how easy and fun biking is and they’ll be inspired to bike more in their spare time,” said Walker. “It’s such a simple thing to just bike, but it gets you moving and it makes such a huge impact.”
Todd agrees. “People don’t have to bike, they choose to bike,” she said.
Since biking to campus requires a conscious decision on the part of students, Todd and Walker hope that by creating more bike-friendly events on campus more students will be encouraged to choose alternative forms of transportation.
If they can make students more excited about biking by just providing them with soap and water for a wash, or bringing in a mechanic to do basic tune-ups, then their efforts were worth it.
Header photo courtesy of Delaney Brown | The Crow’s Nest