The UW-Eau Claire campus has received some serious surgery over the past four years. Alumni might not recognize campus after fresh Davies Center and Centennial Hall construction.
But students and faculty have another improvement to enjoy. The League of American Bicyclists added Eau Claire to its Bicycle Friendly America University program. Eau Claire is one of just four universities in Wisconsin and 75 universities nationwide to recieve this award.
The BFAU program recognizes institutions of higher education for promoting and providing a bikeable campus. Each applicant is evaluated based on efforts to promote bicycling in five areas: engineering, encouragement, education, enforcement and evaluation.
“With roughly 11,000 students, more than 1,500 faculty and about 3,700 vehicle parking spots on campus, (bicycling) is a convenient way to get around campus,” said Christina Hupy, associate professor and Eau Claire Sustainability Fellow.
Hupy said it’s not only faster to get to campus by bicycle, but it’s also healthy and good for the environment.
Eau Claire senior Tommy Spicer said he thinks Eau Claire is bicycle-friendly. Spicer uses the campus’ separated bike lanes and said there are plenty of racks to lock his bike.
Eau Claire currently offers a range of bicycle-friendly services — something Hupy said students don’t take advantage of enough.
The Environmental Adventure Center offers bicycle rentals by day, weekend or the entire week.
The EAC also offers leases for a semester or entire year.
One semester rental costs $100. Or, for $150, students can lease a bike for an entire year. That way, students don’t need to worry about transporting their bike home on vacations. They can store the bikes at the EAC and receive free tune-ups and inspections. At the end of the lease, if the bicycle is undamaged, students are refunded half their deposit.
The Eau Claire Sustainability Committee has already implemented some of their bicycle and pedestrian plan by painting bike “sharrows” or painted markings indicating shared spaces between bikers, pedestrians and traffic. An installation of sheltered bike-parking areas was recently built on both sides of Centennial Hallas well.
Hupy said a major part of the plan will be presented to the Campus Master Plan Committee in the spring, including a designated bike route that travels down Garfield Avenue and State Street. This would fix the current congestion of bikers and pedestrians in the campus mall due to the Centennial Hall construction, Hupy said.
She said there have been cases of collisions in the crowded campus mall between bikers and pedestrians, including tour groups and children in the Blugold Beginnings program.
Megan Lipari, a senior, said she likes the idea of the mall being off limits to bicycles because the campus is small enough to walk between buildings.
“I don’t prefer when people bike between classes because it’s not really needed and they’re in the way,” Lipari said.
She also said bikers are avoiding pedestrians by riding through the grass, which damages the new landscaping.
Hupy said in years to come, the flawed structure of the footbridge is planned to be torn up and remedied during the Garfield Avenue redesign project. For the time being, students will have to live checking over their shoulders at the dangerous bicycle-