The University of Wyoming is designated as having a bike-friendly campus, but still has room for improvement.
A feedback report completed in November by the League of American Bicyclists designated UW as bicycle-friendly at the bronze level.
Though it’s the lowest level of distinction a campus can receive under the university category of the Bicycle Friendly America program — it puts UW in a category as “may not necessarily feel very welcoming” but beginning to take “important steps” to address the bicycle advocacy league’s concerns — Assistant Director of Campus Recreation Dan McCoy said he was pleased with the feedback report. McCoy is also the chair of the UW Bike and Pedestrian Safety Committee.
“There are a number of things (the UW Bike and Pedestrian Safety Committee) does on campus and we have a lot of information out there,” McCoy said during a presentation on the feedback report at a meeting of the Laramie Traffic Commission on Thursday.
The Bicycle Friendly University program recognizes higher education institutions for promoting awareness of bicyclist matters and providing infrastructure to accommodate safe bicycle travel by evaluating an applicant in the areas of engineering, encouragement, education, enforcement and evaluation. UW is a part of more than 120 campuses in the U.S. to receive the distinction.
Though the application is free, McCoy said a campus sustainability course through the Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources took “many, many hours” to complete answering the 75 questions. Credit is also due, McCoy said, to the Bike and Pedestrian Safety Committee to improve bicycle-related infrastructure, education and planning resulting in the designation.
One of the key recommendations from the report is for UW to adopt a Complete Streets or Bicycle Accommodation policy, McCoy said. Complete Streets is a guiding system for transportation planning authorities, where policies are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users, including pedestrians and bicyclists, according to Smart Growth America, an advocacy group for community planning.
McCoy said, as he understood it, Complete Streets policy also “prioritizes all uses of public right-of-way” and emphases public transportation. One example of a Complete Street policy might be designing an intersection utilized frequently by pedestrians with impairments or limitations where there is heavy motorist traffic to prioritize pedestrian mobility with heightened safety precautions.
“It puts the priorities of the community up front, looking at neighborhoods and what the needs are in particular areas,” McCoy said.
The UW Bike and Pedestrian Safety Committee is in the process of developing a master plan for bicycles for the university, McCoy said. Also a member of the Parks, Trails and Recreation Master Plan Ad Hoc Advisory Committee — tasked by the Laramie City Council to develop a long-range parks, trails, recreation and open spaces master plan for the city and all city-owned property — McCoy said plans for the UW campus would tie in with plans for the city.
“I think this will be beneficial to cyclists in the community and our campus,” McCoy said.
Based on U.S. census data from 2008-2012, McCoy said Laramie ranked eighth for the percentage of people who bike to work on average for cities with populations ranging 20,000-100,000 at just less than 7 percent.
“That puts us up with other cities that are a lot warmer than us, with the exception of Lansing, Michigan, which ranked higher than us,” McCoy said. “All of the cities in the top 10 or 15 are cities that have universities and we do have a very large percentage who bike throughout the year despite our weather, which can be challenging at times.”