Over the last 6 years I have been commuting to work exclusively on a bike. Over these years I have found my perfect commuting bike but it took me a few tries to get it right. This may not be your perfect commuting bike but it works for me and may give you some ideas if you are thinking about bike commuting. In fact you may prefer a mountain bike, hybrid or even an electric bike. We each have our own preference. Right now mine is a conventional road bike.
I hope this video helps tip you over the edge and entices you take the plunge to get on your bike and ride to work or school. I researched what bike is best for what distance; how to carry clothes and lunch or even groceries; what to do when it rains and what accessories are best for commuting bikes.
If more people would use bikes to commute, there would be a lot less cars on the road reducing congestion and cost.
Take a bike ride with me from the UCF Student Union to the Tivoli apartments on McCulloch Road and hear how a few improvements on McCulloch might get more students onto bikes and out of their cars which will relieve congestion on the roads as well as the parking garages at UCF.
Bikes are a very convenient and economical way of commuting and in a short distance work better than cars. I should know, I have been commuting to UCF from my home every day for the past six years no matter what the weather. I am not alone. In other place, it is the preferred way of travel and if other places are successful with this, we should be too.
We not only can make this work but we must make this work.
I had the opportunity to talk to the Orange County Board of County Commissioners about an initiative I am starting during public comment. The initiative is to make the area within 5 miles of UCF bike and pedestrian friendly. Here is my public comment. Watch the whole video as you will also hear Commissioner Edwards talk about plans to improve the roads as well as Mayor Jacobs talk about bike commuting.
There is already a project underway between Orange County, UCF and MetroPlan focused on bike and pedestrian safety on University and Alafaya and that is wonderful. It is a great step in the right direction. I would like to take this one step farther and not only focus on those two roads but all the roads surrounding UCF. And with that enhance the roadways to provide better connectivity for bicycle commuting.
The whole purpose of this is to get people out of cars and onto bicycles. It seems monumental but I really think with a few people focused on this, it can be done. The initial focus audience would be UCF students. Can you imagine if only a fraction of the students would choose a bike over cars? It would reduce congestion on the roads as well as parking issues at UCF.
So how do we get people out of cars and onto bikes. You certainly can’t force them and there is nothing more convenient than walking out your front door, getting into your car and having the freedom to go wherever you want. In addition, it is just not considered “cool” right now to ride a bike. Why would anyone choose a bike over a car? It really makes no sense when you have the convenience of cars. The way I see it the only way to solve this problem is to make bike travel more convenient than cars.
Then another issue is where does a student who lives in an apartment put a bike. Space is a premium. Many don’t live on the first floor so they would have to carry a bike up stairs which isn’t going to happen. And if they leave the bike on a bike rack it will be stolen or parts stolen. How does this problem get solved?
Believe it or not all of these problems are solvable and have been solved in other countries and even in other states. A university setting such as ours is perfect for these innovative ideas and can pay huge dividends if implemented. We just have to roll up our sleeves and get to work. More to come on this.
The roads around UCF are very different when it comes to the attention they get in the way of improvements. For example the main entryway to UCF is University Blvd with Alafaya Trail bordering the western end of university property. Alafaya Trail is six lanes as is University Blvd. Both sides of Alafaya and University have sidewalks and Alafaya Trail has six signal lights in a span of 2 miles. More than enough lights for pedestrians to cross.
I have to comment that for bicycle commuters, even these two roads need a lot of work. The bike lane on Alafaya Trail is narrow and only separated by a thin white line while cars whiz by at 45-50 mph. It is very disconcerting and dangerous to ride a bike on the bike lane on Alafaya Trail. And believe it or not, there is no bike lane at all on University Blvd. I am not sure what traffic planners think commuter cyclists are supposed to do, ride on the sidewalk? That just doesn’t work when a person wants to get to work or school. After all, what is the difference between a car commuter who wants to get to work as fast as possible and a bicycle commuter? They both want to commute as fast as possible. To be fair, there is a project underway right now to improve pedestrian and bicycle experience on Alafaya and University but I have no details on what the plan entails.
When it comes to other roads though, they just don’t get the same attention. I am speaking about McCulloch to the north and Tanner to the east. The only reason I can think of as to why this happens is that they are still thought of as rural and lightly traveled. I think that mindset is changing because of resident input but so far I have not seen or heard of any plans to improve them for car or cycling commuters.
All we can do as residents is continue to raise the awareness of issues on these roads with Orange and Seminole County as well as UCF and continue to offer solutions to the issues.
We have two rather large apartment complexes on McCulloch between Alafaya and Lockwood. How do some students get to school and back at UCF on a bike from Northgate Lakes apartments. Let me show you.
At the end of the video are ways to improve the experience for these bike commuters that will make it safer and easier for them to get to class as well as promote bike commuting which will help reduce traffic on these roads.
I rode through UCF on my bike to see what kind of improvements the roads needed to make them more bike friendly. You may not know this but Orlando and Central Florida has one of the worst bike and pedestrian records in the country. I was expecting to find a drastic need for bike lanes and other major improvements but what I found was quite surprising. While there is need for improvement, I didn’t find anything drastic. With some minor effort the roads could be made much safer for cyclists.
So why don’t students commute more on bicycles to school. My feeling is the main problem is driver awareness. I am under the firm belief that most drivers don’t think bikes should be allowed on the roads much less be in the same lane as a car. This is the mindset that must change if we ever expect our roads to be safer for pedestrians and cyclists which in turn will help reduce traffic congestion.
This video shows some very simple and inexpensive ways to greatly improve the roads inside UCF and make them safer for cyclists. I believe the cost of these simple changes will pay back in dividends with a reduction in energy costs, parking spaces and even health benefits.
Please share this video to help make these changes within UCF to get more people commuting by bicycle.
Lee Kernek – Associate VP for Admin and Finance for UCF
Today I met with Lee Kernek from UCF. She is the Associate Vice President for Administration and Finance for the University of Central Florida (UCF), where she has management responsibility for the following administrative units: Facilities Planning and Construction; Facilities Operations; Sustainability and Energy Management; Landscape and Natural Resources; Environmental Health and Safety; and Resource Management.
The meeting was to understand the red area on the eastern most side of UCF property and what was planned for this property. My concern and the concern of homeowners who live close by is that if this is built out over the next five years, additional traffic will be added to the roadways that will further strain the infrastructure.
UCF 5 Year Master Plan Map
Ms. Kernek explained that this area was on the plan but there were currently no plans to build on it during the next 5 years and there is currently no funding available for structures on this property. It is on the plan in case funding would become available and then due process would have to be followed. In addition to this, the area is for Research building and is not slated for classrooms if and when anything will be built on the property.
Ms. Kernek also explained that there are plans to improve the McCulloch/Lockwood intersection by adding an additional turn lane so cars can turn eastbound onto McCulloch from Orion as well as 2 left turn lanes for cars going westbound on McCulloch. This construction is slated to start very soon. This will most certainly assist on game days as well as heavy traffic days during the evening rush hour.
The history of East Orange County as well as the Lake Pickett properties was discussed as well as what UCF can do to assist. Unfortunately, over the last two Campus Master Plan (CMP) updates, the Florida Legislature has not provided funding to any state universities to address impacts to infrastructure generated by their growth.
UCF is well aware of the traffic issues and is ready and willing to be part of a solution.