An Insider’s Look at Becoming the First College or University Platinum-level Bicycle Friendly Business…
May 13th, 2013 @ 8:24 am by Camille Kirk
We thought it would be interesting to invite David Takemoto-Weerts, the UC Davis Bicycle Program Coordinator, to share his perspective on applying for and winning Platinum-level recognition of the campus as a Bicycle Friendly Business. Here are his words about the achievement:
When UC Davis was awarded the highest (“Platinum”) level award by the League of American Bicyclists (LAB) as a Bicycle Friendly Business on Earth Day, April 22, I was a bit surprised, but also very pleased. As one of only eight businesses nationwide to receive Platinum recognition (out of 545 awards presented since 2008), and the first college or university so honored, we are understandably proud.
I had not given much thought to applying for this award until mid-December when LAB’s Executive Director, Andy Clarke, on a visit to UC Davis, suggested that we should and that doing so might improve our chances of moving up from Gold to Platinum the next time we apply for the award. With only four weeks (including two weeks of winter break!) to complete and submit the lengthy application, I was grateful that there was at least some overlap between the questions on the new form and our previous Bicycle Friendly University (BFU) application form. [UC Davis was awarded Gold recognition as a BFU in 2011.]
Perhaps most staff, faculty and students don’t think of the University as a “business”, but the fact is that we have thousands of employees and we provide a wide range of services, usually for a fee, to a broad constituency. Filling out the BFB application forces one to think about what we do in many different ways.
I was asked what the most challenging question was to answer. It was probably this one: “What has been the business’s most significant investment for bicycling?”
I could think of many possible responses, but I went with this:
In the 1960s, Chancellor Emil Mrak made two major policy decisions that were instrumental in making UC Davis so welcoming to bicyclists: 1) all campus buildings and other destinations would have sufficient bike parking for all cyclists and the parking areas would be located as near to major building entrances as possible. 2) in 1967, the campus “core area”, formerly accessible by motor vehicles with no restrictions, was closed to all motor vehicles except for emergency, service and delivery vehicles. By doing so, the core area streets essentially became wide, safe and convenient bike paths overnight. The “bicycle only” campus core area has expanded over the years and, in fact, will expand significantly in 2013 when unauthorized motor vehicles are restricted from even more roadways on the west and southeast sides of campus.
The other challenging part of the application was trying to remember and include all of the programs, policies, procedures and infrastructure that contribute to the overall “bike friendliness” of UC Davis. It’s not like any one department has control or authority over the creation, implementation or management of all these elements, and I’d guess we might have missed a couple.
Even though we earned the top award, we know there is always room for improvement. We should soon be getting feedback from the League that will describe areas in which they feel we could improve. We received similar follow-up when we received the Gold BFU recognition in March 2011. As a result, we instituted a number of improvements that we believe will elevate us to Platinum status when we reapply for the BFU award in July.
To everyone who helped with both applications, especially all those who responded to the League’s survey questionnaire which is an integral part of the review process, TAPS would like to extend a huge “Thank You”! It’s the many campus individuals and departments who do so much to encourage bicycling here at UC Davis that really put us in the top echelon of “bicycle friendship” in the U.S.
So, now that you know a little of the behind-the-scenes story, go out and celebrate May is Bike Month by riding around our Platinum-level bike friendly infrastructure. Bike safe and have fun!