Pedal for Platinum @ MSU

The League's Silver level award seal.
The League’s Silver level award seal which MSU received in Nov. 2015

After receiving the news in November 2015 from the League of American Bicyclists that MSU was upgraded to a silver-level Bike Friendly University award the MSU Bike Advisory Committee (BAC) decided that rather than just plod along towards gold we’d embark on a bold mission of jumping over gold and “Pedal for Platinum”.   “Spartans Will… Pedal for Platinum!” has a nice ring to it!

In true Spartan fashion, our mission launched with action.  We broke down the BFU applications of all the other platinum-level and new gold-level universities to see where the big differences were most apparent in MSU’s case (those comparisons can be viewed here for reference).   One of those that popped out at us were that other platinum universities had neighboring communities that were either platinum-level or gold, such that they were clearly working closely together to assure that the overall experience for their university community from home to campus would be a top-notch bike-friendly experience not just on campus.

downtown-el-grand-river-ave-pano-2010
We began thinking how we might be able to facilitate helping our neighboring communities in their journey to become more bike friendly.  Bringing in some experts to meet with the community leaders came up as an option.  The costs for doing that quickly made it apparent that we’d need help in covering those costs.  The concept of a conference where we’d invite not only our neighboring community leaders but area business leaders and university staff as well was born.

highlights-video-screenshot
Click for a highlights video of the event.

Little did we know at the time, but we ended up leading the way with the country’s first-ever Bike Friendly America conference highlighting the League of American Bicyclists‘ entire award program to other universities, communities and businesses last May.  A wrap-up of the conference is here.

A host of other Bike Month events were also planned and hosted around the conference which all dove-tailed together to form a series of bike culture building opportunities.

img_4891-fx
Tour de MSU group shot

Over the summer the BAC focused their attention on developing a more detailed plan for how MSU will reach platinum.  The draft below has been incorporated into the 2016 update of the Campus Master Plan (which has yet to be approved by the Board of Trustees) which is our current Pedal for Platinum campaign plan.  Additional action items and projects are being discussed and debated within the BAC which will be finalized and posted soon.

If you’d like to suggest some changes or additions to the plan please email Tim Potter or attend one of our upcoming public monthly meetings.


3. Goals & Recommended Strategies

The university will continue striving to improve its standing from a silver-level to a platinum-level Bicycle Friendly University based on the League of American Bicyclists’ ratings. Future goals and recommended strategies are organized around the League of American Bicyclists’ five essential elements: Engineering, Education, Enforcement, Encouragement, and Evaluation/Planning.  In addition, Michigan State University incorporates two additional elements, Environment and Economic, to form the basis for future actions.

3.1   ENGINEERING

Goal:
Strengthen and expand campus infrastructure to support safe, effective, and efficient bicycling.

Recommended Strategies:
1.    Design and construct all campus roadways as complete streets, complying with Michigan Public Acts 134 & 135 of 2010 and update university design and construction standards accordingly.
2.    Fund and construct the final segments of the MSU River Trail.
3.    Enhance and expand parking facilities within priority locations of the academic districts.  Incorporate a minimum bicycle parking ratio for new buildings and major renovations into the Standards for Construction – Design Guidelines.
4.    Increase parking supplies within the residential neighborhoods with a goal to accommodate 30% of the resident population.  Work with REHS to establish a prioritized strategy for implementation.
5.    Work with the lighting committee to assess and implement new night lighting in priority locations.
6.    Investigate traffic signal progressions per Campus Master Plan modality priorities (pedestrians first, bicycles second, transit third, private automobile last).
7.    Eliminate obstructions from potential ‘Clear Vision Areas’ to enhance safety for all users.

3.2   EDUCATION

Goal:
Develop and implement educational programs that promote bicycle usage and bicycle safety.

Recommended Strategies:
1.    Continue working with, and providing information for, student and parent orientation.
2.    Continued cooperation on safety campaigns with MSU Police and other campus groups.
3.    Enhance and promote the MSU Bikes website.
4.    Continue sponsoring bicycle maintenance educational sessions.
5.    Continue to conduct campus rides to increase bicycle awareness.
6.    Analyze results of the parking permit test concerning campus policies.

3.3   ENCOURAGEMENT

Goal:
Establish ongoing strategies promoting bicycling for faculty, staff, students, and visitors.

Recommended Strategies:
1.    Create and communicate incentives promoting bicycle commuting for faculty and staff through Human Resources and MSU Police.
2.    Identify, map, and promote secure storage and showering/locker facilities.
3.    Develop an annual fall bicycle event to promote bicycle registration, appropriate use, and safety.
4.    Create engaging community outreach events centered on bicycling.
5.    Execute a campus version of the International Car-free City Day.

3.4   ENFORCEMENT

Goal:
Clarify and reinforce observance of university ordinances, policies, rules, and regulations related to bicycle use on campus.

Recommended Strategies:
1.    Clarify nomenclature of bicycle facilities and revised ordinances as needed.
2.    Work with MSU Police to increase enforcement of traffic rules and to identify areas of repeat safety violations.
3.    Monitor and adapt the bicycle impoundment practices as required.
4.    Strengthen university bicycle registration efforts.
5.    Encourage bicyclists to report all collisions to MSU Police.

3.5   EVALUATION & PLANNING

Goal:
Monitor progress on recommendations, working through existing protocols and standing committees.

Recommended Strategies:
1.    Annually evaluate the progress on recommendations.
2.    Update the bicycle plan every five years as part of the Campus Master Plan update cycle.
3.    Work through AUTTC (All University Traffic and Transportation Committee) to draft position memoranda identifying bicycle system enhancements relative to new construction projects that not only benefit the project but the larger campus community as well.
4.    Continually assess existing and new recommendations through activity of the MSU Bikes Committee and AUTTC.
5.    Work with the Bike Collaborative initiative and other ad-hoc groups supporting bicycling.

3.6   ENVIRONMENT

Goal:
Encourage bicycle use to reduce scope 3 emissions related to vehicular circulation, especially single occupant motor vehicle operations.

Recommended Strategies:
1.    Incentivize bicycle use and other alternative modalities.
2.    Incorporate scope 3 emission savings into bicycle promotional advocacy.
3.    Continue the partnership between IPF, REHS and ASMSU to expand the existing bicycle share program.
4.    Continue to promote and strengthen CATA’s Clean Commute program and its Emergency Ride Home (ERH) voucher incentive.

3.7   ECONOMIC

Goal:
Reduce university costs associated with building and maintaining a robust vehicular circulation system by increasing bicycle use as a core modality for students, faculty, and staff.

Recommended Strategies:
1.    Encourage and incentivize faculty and staff bicycle use as a means of commuting to, and moving around, campus.
2.    Invest in secure and weather-protected parking facilities at strategic campus locations.

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Author: Tim Potter

Sustainable Transportation Manager, MSU Bikes Service Center; member of the All University Traffic & Transportation Committee (http://auttc.msu.edu); founding member of MSU Bike Advisory Committee (https://msubikes.wordpress.com/volunteer-donate/msu-bac/); advocate for local & regional non-motorized transportation issues thru the Tri-Co. Bike Assn. Advocacy Committee (http://groups.google.com/group/tcatc); board member of the Ride of Silence (http://www.rideofsilence.org); year-round bicyclist of all sorts; photographer; soccer player; father of 3; married 30 yrs. to Hiromi, Japanese national (daughter of former Natl. Keirin Champion, Seiichi Nishiji); Christ follower.

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