Goshen College is on its way to being bike friendly.
Months after applying, Nat Dick, a junior environmental major, got word that Goshen College had won an honorable mention award from the Bicycle Friendly University (BFU) program.
The League of American Bicyclists sponsors the BFU program and hopes to help create bike friendly communities everywhere.
Unfortunately, the award is not as exciting as it may seem.
“Honorable mention does not mean as much as people think it means,” Dick said. “[The BFU] thought that our application had merit, but we didn’t quite do enough to achieve the bronze level of certification. But that’s what we expected. We actually didn’t expect to receive any kind of recognition.”
Glenn Gilbert, utilities manager and sustainability coordinator, likened GC earning the award to receiving a fourth place ribbon at the fair.
“You got a ribbon because you showed up,” he said.
However, the award is not insignificant.
Honorable mention gives recognition to Goshen College for what it has done to make the community bike friendly and also encourages the college to continues in its efforts.
Provost Ken Newbold is a proud supporter of Goshen College’s efforts to make the campus bike friendly and is interested in getting more involved.
“The bike friendly initiative is exciting, and I’m pleased we are working on this project,” Newbold said.
Within the next month, the BFU program will send Dick an email with feedback. The feedback will help Dick and Gilbert, as well as the rest of the ecological stewardship subcommittee, Lydia Miller, a junior, and Ellen Conrad, a senior, make plans for the next year in terms of how to improve Goshen College’s bike community.
Although they haven’t received feedback yet, the ecological stewardship subcommittee is already brainstorming ideas for the next year. Dick and Gilbert both mentioned sheltered outdoor parking, which would help make biking during the wet seasons easier.
The subcommittee is also looking to partner with Chain Reactions, a bike store in downtown Goshen, as well as others in the community.
The city of Goshen won the Bike Friendly Community award in 2011 and has continued to make efforts to be bike friendly.
“We live in a community that has received this designation – bike friendly community,” Gilbert said. “It seems fairly important to me that we build upon that reputation and do our part to make this a fun place to ride a bike.”
Other improvements will hopefully include bicycle safety classes. The kinesiology department currently offers a cycling class, however Dick and Gilbert hope for more bike education within the next year.
The subcommittee has plenty of other ideas to help improve Goshen College, but any changes will be “incremental and take time,” said Gilbert.
As of now, there is not much to be done as the subcommittee waits for feedback, however Dick urges students to take action now.
“Any changes that happen on campus need to have some kind of active student support behind it,” Dick said. “I don’t think this is any different. If we want to keep making [Goshen College] a bicycle friendly campus, we need to have students who are passionate about that and pushing for changes.”
Dick also mentioned the possibility of a bike club on campus. In the past, Goshen College has had a strong bike club, however it slowly died away. Now, Dick is hoping it can be revived, and that more students will get interested in biking.
While Dick encourages students to get involved, Gilbert encourages faculty and staff to bike to campus, if possible.
Although the honorable mention award is “not where we want to be,” said Gilbert, “it’s a start.”