In this next Earth Week article, Lauren Piche of SUNY Fredonia Campus Climate Challenge, introduces their somewhat new Bike Lab and fills us in on some early successes and upcoming opportunities.
Spring has sprung and the streets of Fredonia are bursting with bicyclists catching the scent of freshly mowed grass on their daily ride to school.
This riding season, new waves of cyclists are hitting the streets thanks to SUNY Fredonia’s Bike Lab. The Bike Lab came into operation this fall after a student group at SUNY Fredonia won a grant from the Community Foundation for a Greater Buffalo. Since then, a fleet of 15 used bicycles have been restored and are now being offered to the campus and community as a preferred mode of transportation.
The lab was founded on the basis of improving Fredonia’s carbon footprint. Since cars are our nation’s largest nonpoint source of pollution, the students at Fredonia are choosing bicycles as a carbon neutral way of getting around town. Beyond the environmental and health benefits of bicycling, students at the Bike Lab are realizing the convenience of biking. An experiment conducted by the lab proved that riding a bicycle from the opposite end of town to the college is actually faster than driving, looking for parking spaces and walking from the parking lot to class.
The focal point of our lab is education and bike maintenance. Our cage in the basement of SUNY Fredonia’s health center is full of bicycles already owned by students who need help tuning and prepping them for the upcoming season. Workshops are held to teach the public bike safety and upkeep. This winter we held a workshop that encouraged safe winter cycling. We learned homemade techniques for winterizing a bike by making studded tires and fenders. This spring we will host a spring cleaning workshop that teaches basic tune up and maintenance for dusty bikes.
Another active component of the Bike Lab has been our weekly rides. Every Thursday night and Sunday afternoon, our bicyclists take 5 to 35 miles bike rides to map out and discover new parts of rural Western New York. The local cycling community is continuously growing and it is being noticed.
The Village of Fredonia has been very supportive of our work. This fall the village agreed to block off streets in town for our Take Back the Streets block party. Recently talks of updating village buses to accommodate bicycles have been buzzing among the campus transportation committee. The support from the campus and community has truly helped the Bike Lab establish a name and trusted reputation.
Yet, the backbone of the lab is our amazing volunteers. Volunteers have been putting in endless hours at the lab, teaching and learning how to fix bikes and use tools, and just getting the word out. Our next step is to implement a “Complete Streets” program that will construct bike lanes in traffic heavy areas. Students in the Lab that are savvy in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) have been working on mapping out possible lanes and policy updates that we can present to the Village Board.
For all the great work that we have accomplished so far, we would really like to see the Fredonia Bike Lab be an example for schools throughout the United States.