Campus bike use doubles, reduces lot permits
Construction management senior and bicycle mechanic Mark Wiedbusch repairs a bike Wednesday afternoon at MSU Bikes Service Center in Bessey Hall.
Bikes are gaining ground across campus as more students are trading in their car keys for a new set of wheels.
The MSU Department of Police and Public Safety reported that since 2003, bike registration increased 273 percent on campus. Riders registered 858 bikes between July 1 and Aug. 24, 2003. In that same time frame this year, 2,346 bikes were registered.
As bike registration has increased, the number of cars in the commuter lot has declined by 25 percent. In the last year, vehicles registered for fall semester have decreased from 2,124 to 1,661.
“I walk or bike because I would hate to drive on campus,” said Dana Applebaum, a 2008 MSU graduate. “I like to bike because it’s faster.”
That change is bringing some fame to MSU. The university was commended by the National Wildlife Federation in its Campus Environment 2008 report card, a survey compiled by Princeton Survey Research Associates International.
Car and Bike Statistics
In 2003, 858 bikes were registered on campus. Four years later, registration had increased to 1,905 bikes, and this year, 2,346 bikes were registered.
Since parking spots are limited on campus and fill up each semester, the commuter lot shows fluctuations each semester. This year, only 1,661 cars received permits for the commuter lot. Last year, it was 2,124 cars.
MSU was recognized in seven of the 18 categories. It received accolades for environmental or sustainability goal-setting and employing environmental or sustainability personnel and offering an orientation or publication, among other things.
Tim Potter, marketing and sales coordinator of transportation services for MSU Bikes Service Center, is one employee who works to keep MSU green. He rides his bike to work each day from his home in Okemos.
On Monday, the bike shop had a line out the door. Although some customers were there for repairs, many also were there to lease “green bikes.”
The MSU-owned bicycles – appropriately painted green — can be leased for a semester or the whole year, for $30 per semester. The shop operates from Bessey Hall.
“I have seen quite an increase in the cyclists since the gas prices started climbing,” Potter said. “Especially this year, I’ve seen quite a few more people.”
Although many blame the decrease in commuter lot permits on gas prices and environmental concerns, the recent increase in the price of those permits also could be a factor. This fall, student permits for the commuter lot cost $170, a 19 percent increase from $143 in 2007, which is an even bigger increase from the $129 price in 2006.
Lynette Forman, manager of parking operations for MSU police, said she supports the price because it sustains the parking system. Bike registration, however, is free.
Kinesiology senior and MSU Bikes Service Center employee Rachel Jacobson said there’s more to the growing trend than free registration. Not having to pay for gas, as well as the health benefits of biking, keep Jacobson riding.
“I definitely make fun of people who drive to class who live within walking distance,” she said.
“People complain all the time about parking, so if you didn’t drive to campus, you wouldn’t have anything to complain about.”