Bulletin News

Campus Named ‘Bicycle Friendly’


SUNY Cortland is known as a college that encourages both physical activity and “green” environmental practices. That’s made the sprawling campus a natural location for a mode of transportation that combines both values: the bicycle.

The League of American Bicyclists, which has existed since 1880, recognized SUNY Cortland as a Bicycle Friendly University (BFU) program at the bronze level earlier this month.

The bronze award means that the College has shown a strong commitment to cycling. The designation lasts for four years. SUNY Cortland may apply for a silver award in 2021, if the campus and community make more bike-friendly improvements.

“Students have done a lot and this award gives them recognition for all their hard work,” said Jason Harcum, assistant director of recreational sports for outdoor pursuits, which runs the College’s popular bike rental program.

“Biking is a great way to get around campus because parking can be challenging and it is a sustainable practice,” he said. “It provides exercise and gets people outside.”

Outdoor Pursuits maintains 70 bikes and approximately 50 of them are rented out each week. Outdoor Pursuits also offers a semester-long rental program where a red bike may be obtained for $55.

 BFU recognizes institutions of higher education for promoting and providing a more bikeable campus for students, staff and visitors, according to the organization’s website. It provides guidance and technical assistance to create great campuses for cycling.

The bronze category indicates that the College has demonstrated the following characteristics:

  • Engineering — the administration recently implemented a policy to engineer streets with the consideration of cyclists or is beginning to develop a trail network. Campus facilities conform to the currently recognized safety standards and some training is available for engineers and planners on staff.
  • Education — The campus holds bicycle safety events and educational opportunities and offers education on theft prevention.
  • Encouragement — The campus hosts organized rides each quarter and an annual Bike to Campus Day.             
  • Enforcement — Officers are familiar with laws relating to bicyclists and work with the bicycling community to disseminate safety information to motorists and cyclists.
  • Evaluation — The college/university is familiar with and responsive to the needs of cyclists. There is a significant percentage of employees and students who bike on campus more than twice a week.

SUNY Cortland launched its Community Bike Project in 2003, offering yellow, red, and green bikes for different purposes. After the College opened the Student Life Center in spring 2015, the program found a home within Recreational Sports under the newly created Outdoor Pursuits. Students and staff worked together to understand the program and how to continue to offer an alternative and safe mode of transportation. The first step was changing the name to Cortland Bike Project.

“Students painted all the bikes to red, inspected them for safety and installed new chains, bells and reflectors,” Harcum said.

Members of the SUNY Cortland community who haven’t already done so are encouraged to try getting around campus on a bicycle.

  • Students, faculty or staff may go into Outdoor Pursuits and request a free bike.
  • They then are required to watch an orientation video.
  • Afterward, they get to select a bike and sign a rental agreement.
  • That bike rental is good for one week. Bike usage that exceeds the time frame incurs a late fee of $1 a day.

The Cortland Bike Project bicycles are mainly used in the fall semester and after spring break during the spring semester. Outdoor Pursuits staff currently are reclaiming all the bikes before winter.

“Bike riding is fun, like being in a car but much more personal,” said Joseph Awuku a junior art studio major from Corona, N.Y. “I enjoy biking around campus because it is a quick way to get to class and allows me to appreciate the beauty of the campus. I think more students should bike more often because it is healthy. We go to school on a nice campus and biking helps you appreciate that.”

 For more information, contact outdoor.pursuits@cortland.edu or call 607-753-5809.

Prepared by Communications Office writing intern Navita Ramprasad