UCF has been working hard to become more bike friendly and now all this hard work has paid off. The League of American Bicyclists just awarded UCF the bronze award for bike friendliness.
I know what you’r thinking. “I wouldn’t dare ride a bike around here. Are you crazy? UCF isn’t bike friendly. No one can ride a bike safely around here.” I have to agree when it comes to the roads just outside of UCF but the roads inside UCF are very bike friendly. Take it from someone that has been riding to work every day for 8 years and ridden almost every road around this area for both commuting and recreation for many more years.
UCF’s has two challenges to continue to move past Bronze to Silver to Gold and then Platinum. The first is an entire culture change at UCF and the surrounding area. Drivers just don’t think bikes should be on the road so that challenge is education and enforcement. The second challenge is what you see every day, the roads surrounding UCF are just not bike friendly and will prevent UCF for moving forward. Orange County, Seminole County, FDOT and MetroPlan all need to be involved and every bike organization and advocate needs to continue to keep this at the forefront of our elected officials minds. And it goes beyond bike advocates, this is a sustainability issue so that draws in environmentalist; true environmentalists that are interested in an all encompassing solution to clean air. I am not talking about groups that are only concerned with some small plot of land they want to protect, this is a cause that everyone should be behind whether you live in an urban, suburban or rural lifestyle.
You can read the article the Sentinel written by Kevin Spear here: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/os-ucf-cycling-friendliness-rank-20171109-story.html
A quote from the article reads:
“Amelia Neptune, director of the league’s Bicycle Friendly America program, said UCF’s high marks included repair and rental services, a “decent amount” of bike infrastructure with more than 4 miles of bike lanes, more than 6,000 bike parking spots and bike repair stands.”
She goes on to say this:
“The Bicycle Friendly University review team was especially pleased to see the passion and commitment of such a large number of UCF staff, faculty and students in making their campus more bicycle-friendly,”
Personally, that sentence means more to me than any award. This all gained momentum when a graduate study team was assigned the project to complete the bike friendly application. It is not trivial task because the application itself is 36 pages long and many departments within UCF were involved. But they got it done in just two short months. The team was led by Mitchell Vasquez who showed passion for the project. What they thought was just a class project turned into something that will be the base of an entire culture change at UCF.
UCF also wrote an article that you can read here: https://today.ucf.edu/league-american-bicyclists-names-ucf-bicycle-friendly-university/
Here’s a quote from the article:
“Engineering students in a Total Quality Improvement class during the summer helped evaluate bicycle-friendly initiatives at UCF and submit the application. Student groups were randomly assigned a Facilities & Safety project to analyze and suggest solutions. Despite being selected at random, the students said working towards the initiative quickly turned into a worthwhile venture and more than just a class assignment.”
This is just the beginning, there is more work to be done with the biggest challenge being the roads outside UCF. UCF can only go so far without the help of the municipalities surrounding UCF. Orange County, Seminole County, FDOT and MetroPlan all have to participate. The goal is to remove obstacles and anything that will deter people from using bikes as a way to commute. Riders just do not feel safe in the bike lane on Alafaya with cars whizzing by at 50 mph. There is no bike lane on University or McCulloch forcing riders onto the sidewalk. This forces them to cross driveways and streets and the danger of cars turning in and crashing into them. All of this needs to be changed so people feel safe riding.
The real prize is sustainability. Cars are just not sustainable and every form of transportation needs to be fully utilized. Infrastructure restraints and political interests force us to think outside of the box and embrace multi-modal transportation options. Help make UCF the most bike friendly campus in Florida just by talking about it and working towards a better future for all of us.