(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University joined 163 other visionary colleges and universities around the country today when it was recognized as a Bicycle Friendly University by the League of American Bicyclists.
SOU was recognized at the “silver” level of the league’s four-tiered system for bicycle-friendly designation. Only 23 institutions were recognized at the “platinum” or “gold” levels, while 46 received silver-level awards. Another 95 received “bronze” awards.
SOU’s ECOS Sustainability Resource Center first applied for bicycle-friendly designation three years ago, but fell just short of the list and received an honorable mention. This year’s designation follows a significant upgrade to the SOU Bike Program over the past two years: after receiving startup capital from the SOU Green Fund, the program has gone from six rental bicycles to a fleet of 42 Trek commuter bikes that are available to students for term-by-term rental. The program also hired a dedicated student bicycle mechanic and student program coordinator, and has developed programing and curricula to integrate bicycling into the campus culture.
“We hope to continue to build on the momentum of this new effort and expand our service to the SOU community,” said Joseph Stout, student coordinator of the SOU Bike Program.
Stout said he hopes to expand the program to include hands-on maintenance workshops for students, group rides and easily-available information about the environmental and health benefits of bicycling. “Our rental program is extremely popular and we are also working on bolstering and expanding this, to provide bikes for even more students,” he said.
The Bicycle Friendly University program is now in its fifth year. The League of American Bicyclists is leading a movement to create a “bicycle-friendly America.” The organization also sponsors Bicycle Friendly Community, Bicycle Friendly State and Bicycle Friendly Business programs.
“We applaud this round of Bicycle Friendly Universities for raising the standard and being innovative in making bicycling a safe, convenient and enjoyable option for students, staff and visitors alike,” said Bill Nesper, director of the league’s bicycle-friendly programs.
About Southern Oregon University
Southern Oregon University provides outstanding student experiences, valued degrees, and successful graduates. SOU is known for excellence in faculty, intellectual creativity and rigor, quality and innovation in connected learning programs, and the educational benefits of its unique geographic location. SOU was the first university in Oregon—and one of the first in the nation—to offset 100 percent of its energy use with clean, renewable power. It is the first university in the nation to balance 100 percent of its water consumption. Visit sou.edu.