University of Washington promotes bicycling to faculty, staff and students; earns BizCycle silver

BizCycle isn’t just for your typical business. We adapt the BizCycle credit list is adaptable to fit workplaces of all kinds, even one of the state’s top employers—the University of Washington.

The UW Seattle campus has the challenge of promoting and supporting bicycling for faculty, staff and students—over 68,000 people! But the campus’s size and span has not stopped the University from being a national leader in bicycling.

“We decided to apply for BizCycle certification because the University of Washington is striving to be the most bicycle friendly university in the country, and we think it’s important to periodically evaluate our efforts against third-party metrics,” said David Amiton, the recent past Active Transportation Analyst at UW.

Secure bike parking outside of Paccar Hall at the University of Washington Michael G. Foster School of Business.

While currently nine percent of students, faculty and staff on UW’s Seattle campus pedal to work, 73 percent of commute trips made are biking, walking or transit trips. The accessibility of commute options, Amiton stated, “figures prominently in our ability to attract the best students and employees.”

With 3,635 covered bike parking spaces on campus and 2,678 uncovered visitor bike parking spaces and five bicycle repair stations spread across campus, the University takes their infrastructure seriously. Transportation Services also holds an internal Commute Challenge event among the campus community every November called Ride in the Rain to build camaraderie and momentum into the less-pleasant winter commuting months. Last November, 1,100 students and employees participated, including 50 new commuters. It was a record-breaking year and a huge success.“

If we can get 50 people to take up bicycling in mid-November, we know we’re doing something right!” said Amiton.

The event is held in addition to the University’s promotion of the Commute Challenge presented by Adobe during Bike Month in May. This year during Bike Month, the University saw a 10 percent increase in teams, and nearly doubled the campus participation with enhanced outreach and the addition of prize drawings to incentivize participation.

New improvements are coming to campus, including additional high quality, secure bicycle parking. The UW is leading a project to improve the Burke-Gilman trail between 15th Ave. and Rainier Vista, and along with plans to separate pedestrian and bicycle facilities, the University plans to install a bicycle parking facility with 52 covered spaces and 112 secure spaces adjacent to the trail. Amiton noted that BizCycle identified additional areas to enhance the UW’s programs, such as direct incentives for bicycling.

Despite a clear plan to grow its programs and recent successes in outreach, UW still faces some barriers to increasing bicycling

“The challenge we work most diligently to meet is effectively and creatively communicating with our diverse constituents, which include students, staff, faculty and visitors of all ages and backgrounds,” Amiton stated. “One of the biggest communication challenges on a college campus is that we only have a limited window to reach our largest audience – the student body – and students are already bombarded with so many messages that fill their inboxes and mailboxes.”

Despite those challenges, the University of Washington earned Silver level certification with a final score of 31 out of 50 possible credits. It was certified in BizCycle’s first cohort of bicycle-friendly businesses. Congratulations!

Do you work for (or attend school at) a bicycle-friendly employer like UW? Apply for BizCycle certification! Applications are due Friday, September 20. Email bizcycle@cascadebicycleclub.org to get started or visit http://bizcycle.cascade.org to learn more.

Ryan Child
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