MSU Moves up to Silver Bike Friendly University Award Status!

The League's Silver level award seal.
The League’s Silver level award seal. Click to view the MSU press release.

It’s an exciting time for 49 universities and colleges around the country who are new and renewing Bicycle Friendly Universities including MSU which moved up to a silver level award!  We’re now one of 28 silver-level BFUs!

This new list of BFUs represents a tremendous amount of work by hundreds if not thousands of people in these universities not to mention the monetary investments too in the effort to make campuses more bike friendly and educate the next generation on safe bicycling habits.

IMG_5717
The finished new porch staircase (as of 8/24/15)

Read MSU’s press release from Nov. 6, 2015 here.

Read the League’s full press release here which links to award information on all of the awardees.

Interested in helping MSU go for Platinum? Get involved with the MSU Bike Advisory Committee.

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Lunchtime Rides Around Campus

Riding along Farm Ln., spring 2015 during Tour de MSU
Riding along Farm Ln., spring 2015 during Tour de MSU

Looking for something fun and a little different to do over one lunch hour a month?  Join some of your fellow campus bicyclists and take a slow, leisurely ride around MSU for fresh air, discover new things about campus, enjoy some conversation, etc.

We’ll meet up outside the MSU Bikes Service Center at noon on the last Wednesday of the month and ride for about an hour finishing up back at MSU Bikes.  Rides will feature several stops/ breaks, have a leader and sweeper (someone riding at the rear to help w/ anyone who might need assistance) and will cover anywhere from 3-10 miles at the most depending on the leader and route selected for the month.  Any bike type should be fine and air and mechanical assistance will be available at the start at MSU Bikes.

Brighter clothing, helmets, lights encouraged.  We’ll be following all rules of the road and the campus ordinances, so we won’t be riding on sidewalks, but will use the paths marked for bicycling.

Tim chatting about the Tour de MSU ride
Tim chatting about the Tour de MSU ride at the Sparty statue. The lunch time rides concept was birthed by this first successful organized ride around campus the spring of 2015.

If it’s pouring we’ll cancel the ride. If it’s light drizzle we’ll ride, Seattle/ Portland style!

We’ll continue riding throughout the year, so you’ll have the opportunity to learn about cold weather riding too by actually doing it!

Looking forward to riding with you!

The MSU Bikes Service Center's new exterior
The MSU Bikes Service Center’s new exterior – meet-up here.

Bike Friendly Improvements to Campus this Summer (2015)

Those of you just returning to campus will be pleasantly surprised to find some significant improvements to our campus making it more bike friendly.

There are several areas that have had new bike parking facilities added including some new and much improved bike parking racks as you’ll see in the slideshow below.  These racks, called Varsity Docks by Park a Bike, help keep bikes upright (by preventing the wheel from rolling), feature a more intuitive design for proper locking of bikes and has padding where the rack contacts a bike to prevent damage to bikes.  They are more expensive and don’t easily allow for locking up more bikes than they’re designed for (like the common U-loop style rack we’ve got all over campus) but it’s hoped fewer bikes will fall to the ground (which leads to abandonment oftentimes) and reduces theft due to improper locking.

Additional improvements to the bike parking situation on campus:  83 new U-loop style racks in front of E. Akers Hall to replace old-school style racks, 23 new U-loop style racks in front of E. Akers Hall, 48 new U-loop style racks to the West side of the front of W. Akers Hall, 16 new U-loop style racks in front of W. Akers Hall, an expanded cement pad on the East side of Holden Hall for more moped parking to reduce conflict at the bike racks and to allow for more bike parking loops in the future.

Other bike-friendly improvements:

  • Chestnut Rd. is now another “Complete Street” on campus from North to South (from Trowbridge near the IPF Hqrs. to Kalamazoo St.) with safe accommodations for all road users including bike lanes.
  • Resurfaced and redone bike lanes on Farm Ln. north of the bridge to the Auditorium Rd. intersection.
  • Reinstalled many bike lane symbols around campus that had become worn-off from snow plows, etc.

Our New Improved Entryway and Extended Patio – Now Open!

The finished new porch (as of 8/24/15)
The new porch (as of 8/24/15) ready for arrival of students, awaiting railings.
The finished porch of the Center
The finished porch of the Center with the new hand-rails, stairway and doors. In the background you can also see the newly renovated deck overlooking the river and Erickson Kiva across the river. (as of April 13, 2016)

Below is more information and a photo gallery of pics of the improvements made to the entryway and porch of the Center which started in August and wrapped up late in 2015.

Construction began Monday (Aug. 10) on our new entryway!  Sorry for not forewarning everyone.  The entrance will be safer to access for our customers, particularly those with mobility challenges.  There’ll be new railings and a completely new staircase off to the west side of the entrance rather than off the front as it has been.  This will allow us to display bikes outside without them obstructing access to the shop and the ramp leading up to the entrance.  We’re also getting a new electric-assist door unit to make it easier for our customers to get inside when their hands are full, etc.

Here is a slideshow of the construction, installation and finished new porch and entry way with electric assist door opener including the renovation of the deck:

Road riding survival tips, no. 2: The Door Prize You DON’T Want!

Toronto - Door prize campaign
Poster from Toronto’s 2005 Campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of dooring.  Click graphic for more info. on the campaign.

When riding in the road you’ll sometimes find yourself riding past parked cars (thankfully most of the on-street car parking on campus is now gone, but now and then you’ll pass a delivery vehicle or someone dropping off a friend, etc), and sometimes you’ll feel you need to ride close to them to avoid getting in the way of or slowing down motor vehicle traffic.  Well, there’s a very dangerous area near parked cars called the “Door zone” which is where many bicyclists have been seriously hurt or killed, either by the door itself or by getting knocked off their bikes and sent flying out into the travel lane.

Watch this new video that captures such a moment by a taxi’s dash-cam; fortunately for this bicyclist the taxi was able to stop before causing the bicyclist serious injury:

London taxi driver captures the moment he almost ran over a cyclist
London taxi driver captures the moment he almost ran over a cyclist who was trying to avoid a car door (click to view on Facebook; courtesy The Telegraph)

The door zone extends out a lot further than you might think and, unfortunately, a lot further than most road agencies even realize, so sometimes bike lanes will even be marked way too close to parked cars encouraging riding in the “door zone”.

Avoidance instructional video
Parking lot demonstration of why we avoid the door zone on a bicycle

This short video (courtesy of the League of American Bicyclists) is an excellent instructional which clearly shows where you should ride.

So, next time you’re going to pass a parked vehicle be sure you get over far enough in advance (after shoulder-checking for a gap in traffic) to avoid the “Door prize you don’t want”.

Road riding survival tips, no. 1 – Mind the Gap!

So, perhaps you’re new to riding in the road and are now trying to stay off the sidewalks as much as possible like our campus ordinance and bike safety advocates want you to.  Great!  Well, there are a number of things to keep in mind, beware of, and not just cars, trucks and buses.

CAUTION! Pavement edge drop zone
CAUTION! Pavement edge drop zone

Here’s one of them to the right.  This is a pretty common road-side hazard that takes many forms.  It’s basically the edge of the road and that difference in height between the edge and the curb gutter pan cement (or dirt if you’re out in the country) can cause you to lose control and crash you as you try to regain control should your front wheel drop off that edge.  The same condition occurs at the edge of a off-road path or sidewalk and is often covered by grass making the hazard hard to notice until it’s too late.  This is one of the most common crash scenarios that we hear about in our shop. I hope this will serve as a visual reminder why you shouldn’t ride up close to the curb when riding in the roads.  And when riding on pathways or sidewalks (if you must) keep that nasty edge in mind when/ if you have to go off the edge to get around something/ someone. Survival Hint:  Pop a little wheelie when getting back on the road/ path/ sidewalk to avoid crashing. Not far from the above photo is this pothole in the bike lane (2nd photo to the right); could also be a dead animal or spare tire, or whatever.

Beware the bike lane pothole
Mind the Gap!  And beware bike lane potholes!

You need to be able to miss stuff like this without swerving into traffic, so it’s best to ride far enough out into the travel lane (particularly when using these very narrow bike lanes or paved shoulders) so that you have options to get around such things without swerving at the last second into traffic & risk getting hit. See this web page courtesy of the League of Michigan Bicyclists that lists all of the Michigan Laws Pertaining to Bicyclists including the right to ride in other areas of the road way to stay safe and get to where you need to go like any other legal road user.

Greater Lansing’s 1st Ever Bike Movie Night! – CONCLUDED (archived article)

Greater Lansing Bike Movie Night poster
Greater Lansing Bike Movie Night poster

MSU Bikes is excited to be teaming up with the Tri-County Bike Association and other supporters to have our first ever bike movie night on May 29th, 2015, the last Friday of National Bike Month.  The movies will be showed twice with the start of the first showing at 6 pm and the 2nd at 8 pm at the Midtown Brewing Company, one of Lansing’s finest brew pubs.  The movies will run twice so that if you’re late or helping out with the valet bike parking you won’t miss any of them!  No food or drink will be provided by the sponsors but MBC’s full menu will be available to order from.

The movies will be provided by the good folks of the Kalamazoo Bicycle Film Festival, an annual event that has been showing great bike movies since 2010.  It will be a show of 22 short movies spanning the entire spectrum of bicycling that you won’t want to miss!  The line-up of movies is listed on their website if you’re curious.


Check out our Facebook event for the show here.


A $5 donation is suggested in lieu of an admission fee.  Donations will be shared between some of our local community bike programs to be announced at the event. Supporters providing some assistance to make the event possible so far include:  TCBA, Go Green Trikes, the League of Michigan Bicyclists, the Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council & the Curmudgeonly Cyclist.  Mid-MEAC will be providing their Valet Bike Parking equipment for the event and volunteers from our community bike programs will be helping run the VBP service.

Thanks to Allison McKenna of allielune designs (online portfolio: allielune.carbonmade.com) for doing the artwork for our event poster (& for the original Kalamazoo Bike Film Fest poster)!!

Tour de MSU Campus 2015 – Inaugural fun, slow, social ride – (archived article)

Lansing Bike Party
Lansing Bike Party members riding on one of the new bike lanes on campus on W. Circle Dr. by IM Circle/ Music Bldg., summer 2013.

Join your fellow MSU bicyclists on Wednesday, May 13th, 2015, for a fun, slow, social ride around campus to see all the newer bike-friendly facilities that have been installed in the past year or two that everyone might not know about. We’ll start at the Spartan Statue (Kalamazoo and Chestnut) at noon and stop occasionally to look and talk about different features.  This will be a good opportunity to discuss challenging aspects and features we ride past that remain for MSU to progress towards a gold and someday a platinum Bike Friendly University award. No RSVP or registration required; just show up and ride! Here’s a map showing where we’ll be going around campus in case you want to jump in at some point along the route (sorry, just don’t have a good way to know WHEN we’re going to be at different points along the route).

Our updated MSU Bike Facilities map (JPEG version) is here (updated May 2015) which shows you all of the bike-friendly features of our campus.  (PDF version of the MSU Bike map)

Highlights of our Tour de MSU:
– Ride down recently updated/ improved S. MSU River Trail
– Brief stop by MSU Bikes Service Center
– (quick peek @ outdoor air station/ DIY repair station)
– Stop at corner of N. MSU River Trail @ Bogue St. to talk about the upcoming resurfacing project
– Cruise down the 1st marked separated bike/ped pathway behind Owen Hall (which served as a model for renovating other paths on campus)
– Brief stop @ new DIY bike repair station outside NW Akers Hall entance

Poster for MSU Bike Week events
Poster for MSU Bike Week events.  Click image for PDF version of the poster/ flyer for your workplace/ cafes, etc.

– Pass thru redesigned Shaw Ln./Bogue St.intersection
– Stop by new DIY bike repair station outside NW entrance to Snyders- Phillips Hall
– Visit the MSU Bike (Parking) Garage inside the Grand River Parking Ramp #6
– Brief discussion of W. Circle Dr. being the 1st “Complete Street” on campus
– Stop by new DIY bike repair station outside E. entrance to Yakeley Hall
– Pedal over to the Brody Complex via the MSU River Trail w/ brief stop by end of MSU River Tr. behind Jenison to talk about the status of completing the connection to the East end of the Lansing River Trail at Harrison Rd.
– Visit the new DIY bike repair station outside Emmons Hall in the Brody Complex
– Stop by upcoming new residential/ retail building project at corner of Kalamazoo and Harrison to talk about planned bike facilities
– Cruise down Harrison Rd. to the new under construction Multi-Modal Transportation Center near Trowbridge/ Harrison Rd. and discuss new bike facilities going in there.
– Back to campus, brief visit to new DIY bike repair station outside loading dock on north side of Holden Hall
– Stop by the MSU Bike Garage in the Trowbridge Parking Ramp #5 – Pedal back to the Spartan Statue via Red Cedar Rd.

Mid-MEAC's Valet Bike Parking crew
Friendly volunteers will watch your bike while you enjoy breakfast! (Mid-MEAC’s Valet Bike Parking crew [Brandon and Julie Powers in purple shirts] w/ Tim and Lauren Olson, formerly of MSU Sustainability)

Click here to learn about the 3rd Annual MSU Bike to Work/ Campus Breakfast on May 15th, 2015, which is also National Bike to Work Day.


May is Natl. Bike Month! May is National Bike Month!

It’s the official kickoff to the bicycling season.  If you’re looking for materials to help promote bicycling in your work place the League of American Bicyclists have got a bunch of stuff here.


Sparty on bike - Beaumont Tower

National Bike Challenge Starts May 1!

Calling all MSU bicyclists! It’s time to start warming up for the National Bike Challenge again. If you’ve never participated in the past, it’s very easy to join the fun.  You’ll be eligible for great prizes and get to see how your miles compare to others at MSU and around the country!  Be sure you’re registered under MSU as your school and then our miles will all be counted together! (We don’t have a Team MSU per se as there are limits on how big a team can be and other logistical headaches) Here’s MSU’s summary/ profile: https://nationalbikechallenge.org/school/6394

3rd Annual MSU Bike to Work & Campus Breakfast – CONCLUDED (archived article)

Poster for MSU Bike Week events
Poster for MSU Bike Week 2015 events

Mark your calendars for Friday, May 15, 8 am – 9:30 am, National Bicycle to Work Day, for our 3rd Annual Bike to Work – Campus Breakfast to honor and recognize those who bicycle to work/ campus and celebrate bicycling as an important part of MSU’s Bike Month activities.   Join us for a free breakfast in the large private dining room of the Brody Square Cafeteria.  Just give your name and the event name at the register.

Enjoy free bicycle valet parking provided by Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council just outside the main entrance to Brody Hall.

Free food!
Free food! Yummm!

There is a limit of 56 people for the room so please RSVP using this form. There is a short survey on the RSVP form which we hope will allow us to have some interesting data to share during the breakfast regarding our attendees and their bike commuting.

We’re lining up speakers now and looking for volunteers to sit on a panel discussion.  There will again be raffle prizes.

News:  We’ve confirmed one of our speakers, Dr. Greg Holzman, who’s heading up the Healthy Campus Initiative, which is a program of the Provost.  HCI is assisting with pulling together all stakeholders on campus to develop some effective ways to improve the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians on the MSU Campus.  We’ll get an update on that initiative.

Download the PDF version of the poster for printing and hanging in your work place to help promote the events.

Click here to go to MSU’s inaugural Tour de MSU Campus information.

Mid-MEAC's Valet Bike Parking crew
MSU Bike to Work/ Campus Day 2013 – Mid-MEAC’s Valet Bike Parking crew (Brandon and Julie Powers in purple shirts) w/ Tim and Lauren Olson of MSU Sustainability.

May is Natl. Bike Month!May is National Bike Month!

It’s the official kickoff to the bicycling season.  If you’re looking for materials to help promote bicycling in your work place the League of American Bicyclists have got a bunch of stuff here.


Sparty on bike - Beaumont Tower

National Bike Challenge Starts May 1!

Calling all MSU bicyclists! It’s time to start warming up for the National Bike Challenge again. If you’ve never participated in the past, it’s very easy to join the fun.  You’ll be eligible for great prizes and get to see how your miles compare to others at MSU and around the country!  Be sure you’re registered under MSU as your school and then our miles will all be counted together! (We don’t have a Team MSU per se as there are limits on how big a team can be and other logistical headaches) Here’s MSU’s summary/ profile: https://nationalbikechallenge.org/school/6394

New DIY Bike Repair Stations and Resources at MSU

Needing to put a little air in your bike tires, fix a flat tire or do a minor adjustment?  Well, if you’re on campus you’re in luck!

MSU Bike facilities map
MSU Bike facilities map, updated May 2015

This map shows you where you can find eight do-it-yourself bike repair stations on campus and further below are some photos showing you what they look like so you can recognize them.  (Brody Complex station is on the east side of Emmons Hall; E. Neighborhood station is outside W. Akers entrance near bike parking area [the dot on the map is slightly off on this location; sorry!).

The five newest stations (made by Bike Fixtation) installed in the five residential neighborhoods were purchased and installed thanks to donors, Rick Brown and Kathy Donahue Brown through the Brown-Hoover Charitable Trust (established by Rick’s mother and stepfather, Carroll Brown Hoover and James Hoover).  This State News article gives more information about the newest stations.

You can also view a video showing how these stations can be used here.

There have been three Dero-brand stations on campus for a while and have proven very popular.  There is one outside the MSU Bikes Service (installed 2008) and one inside each MSU Bike Garage (secure bike parking facilities –  details here).

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Is there a special bike in your life needing TLC?

So, is there a special bike in your life that’s been languishing in your garage or basement waiting for that day to get back on the road? Perhaps it was involved in a crash and you bent the frame or forks and figure it’s a goner? Well, we’ve got good news for you! Our mechanics would love to bring your pride and joy back to life in time for Valentine’s Day or other special occasion for you or your loved one.

Bring your bike in now for a free estimate; you’ll beat the spring rush and
your bike will be in tip-top shape when the warmer weather arrives!

Over the years we’ve done some very nice renovations.  For example, here are some before-and-after photos of a 70’s vintage Schwinn 3-speed – from garage-hanger to beautiful city bike!


… and a couple videos of our mechanics straightening a “goner” frame giving it new life.

Bike frame-repair part 1
Bike frame-repair video, part 1
Bike frame-repair video, part 2
Bike frame-repair video, part 2

Commuter Benefit – your own locker & shower!

Oftentimes one of the top answer to surveys of why people don’t currently ride their bike to work is no access to showers and lockers. Well, there’s good news!  MSU Bikes has worked together with MSU’s Recreational Sports and Fitness Services to offer access to a FREE large assigned locker to those who are registered bike commuters in the IM Sports Circle facility!  That’s a $105/ year value! Take a look below at some photos of the IM Sports Circle if you’re not familiar with it.

To take advantage of this MSU Bikes Commuter Benefit, please complete this form and then do one of the following to confirm that you’re bike commuting:

  1.  Install and run the Ride Report app which runs in the background and helps you track your biking, walking, transit, car trips. It’s a very low battery consuming app. that doesn’t require you to start and stop it like Strava and other apps. If we get enough users running the Ride Report app the developer (a start-up on the West coast) will create an area heat map for us which will give us some great data which can be used to help us plan future improvements to our campus and neighboring streets that users frequently use for their commutes/ errands, etc. If you choose to go this route, please take a screen shot of your summary page and e-mail it to me.
  2. Post a photo of you with your bike to Facebook and tag with @MSU Bikes Service Center and include a short summary of your bike commuting story (how long your commute is, how often you ride, why you ride, etc.).
  3. Stop by the MSU Bikes Service Center with your bike and visit with me! Please call or email ahead to make sure I’m in or leave a note for me w/ your name on it if we miss each other.

IM Circle has a lot of character and is shared by the Department of Kinesiology.  You must register your MSU ID on the Rec Sports website at least 2 business days before arriving to guarantee access to the locker room.  For security reasons, only registered IDs give you access.  After completing the form above we’ll email you instructions for getting your ID authorized for access.  Once you have registered your ID it’s good for one academic year ending in April.  Each April signs will be posted in the locker rooms reminding users to re-register in April for continued access.

Questions regarding the IM Sports Circle facility? Want a tour?
Contact: IM Sports Circle service counter at (517) 355-4710, stop by in person or email the Asst. Director, Angela Michael.

More Bike-Friendly Commuter Options:

Bike Garage @ Trowbridge Parking Ramp
Bike Garage @ Trowbridge Parking Ramp. Holds up to 23 bikes and features a handy DIY repair station.

But wait, there’s MORE!  A survey of MSU employees in 2009 indicated that many people weren’t riding their bikes to work due to a lack of secure bike parking on campus; well, there are now TWO secure bike parking facilities, MSU Bike Garages, on campus (North – inside the Grand River Parking Ramp and South – inside the bus waiting area of the Trowbridge Parking Ramp).  See this page for more information on getting access to the Bike garages!

Questions or suggestions about any of this?

Contact Tim Potter @ MSU Bikes via email or phone:  517-432-3414

Thoughts on Bike Lights

Don't be a Ninja on a bike!
Don’t be a Ninja cyclist! Be SEEN and LIVE! Click image to learn more from the Tempe AZ Bicycle Action Group.

After reading the excellent “Bike Lights” article in Momentum’s Sept/Oct 2010 issue by Jonathon Reynolds which shares some research on when/where most bike accidents occur, I’d like to comment on the topic.

There’s a common misconception that you only need lights when it’s dark or getting dark.  Due to almost getting hit in the middle of the day by a driver, whom I believe simply didn’t see me in the dark shadows of a tree (some people’s eyes don’t adjust very quickly to extreme lighting changes), I have since strongly encouraged people to use flashing lights, front and rear, whenever they ride and not just when it’s getting dark.

There’s a good reason why many newer motor vehicles have lights that come on automatically whenever the engine is running; they’re called “Daytime Running Lights”.  While US car manufacturers have effectively lobbied against requiring them Canada and many European countries have enacted legislation requiring them on motor vehicles while at least one, Germany, requires front and rear lights be working at all times on bicycles.

If you need data to be convinced, take a look at this data on when the bulk of crashes occurred – DAYLIGHT HOURS!  Yes, the bulk of the fatal crashes have occurred later in the evening hours but it’s obvious your visibility isn’t just important when it’s dark out (courtesy of the Michigan Traffic Crash Facts tool).

Additionally, people should definitely stick with lights that have easily rechargeable batteries or USB rechargeable so that they’re more likely to use the lights all the time rather than trying to conserve batteries.  We stock many affordable lights at MSU Bikes and can special order just about any other light on the market.

Finally, I see way too many cyclists riding around with lights that are hardly visible, or hanging off a backpack often pointing to the ground, apparently thinking “I’ve got a light, I’m safe”, but apparently have no idea how invisible they are.  I’m not sure if it’s the nature of rechargeable batteries or the modern LED lights, but it’s also best to have backup lights on the rear and front as I’ve had them look bright at the start of my commute home only to discover they died sometime during my ride.

So, be sure to check your lights often and recharge or replace those batteries to stay alive!  And make sure they’re aimed properly down the road so they’re actually visible to motorists.

almost-all-lights
Selection of strong widely available tail lights. Click for an excellent review of tail lights. We stock many affordable lights at MSU Bikes as does any good bike shop.

Our 2014-2015 Holiday Schedule

Santas on bikesOur shop will be closed from December 20th through January 4th , 2015 for the university holidays.

We’ll be open again on Monday, January 5th.


Until then our mechanics are caught up and turning around repair work rapidly.  Consider bringing in your bikes now rather than waiting til spring like everyone else!  Avoid the long lines in the spring!

Click here to read more about the magic our mechanics can work on older bikes in bringing them back to life.

Lovely 70's Schwinn 3-speed brought back to life
Lovely 70’s Schwinn 3-speed brought back to life