Addie McAllaster is a junior at UNC-Chapel Hill double majoring in Environmental Studies (Sustainability Track) and English Comparative Literature (Film Concentration).
One of the great advantages of living in a college town such as Chapel Hill is its walkability. In fact, one of my favorite things is to walk to classes during the fall when the leaves have just started to turn. I want to make sure all students have the same opportunities to enjoy the campus year-round no matter their mode of transportation.
This spring, I am working with UNC Facilities Technology Group and Transportation and Parking as their Bike Friendly University Review intern to improve the campus’ bikeability. This opportunity came through the UNC Institute for the Environment’s EcoStudio, an environmental internship program that connects students with various organizations.
Setting a New Goal
My goal is to get the University to gold level status in accordance with The League of American Bicyclists. One criteria for getting the university to gold level status involves mapping current bike amenities and racks around campus and the surrounding areas. Keeping these maps up to date is also important for those who depend on biking to get to work or class on a regular basis.
One of my ESRI Map in progress that shows bike amenities cross campus
UNC has taken steps to make campus more bike friendly. Currently, 14.2% of students use a bike to access campus. The Cyclicious event during Week of Welcome is designed to get more students excited about using bikes as their main mode of transportation. The Tar Heel Bikes program makes bike use across campus and the Franklin Street area accessible for all students. This bike sharing program allows students to ride a bike for an hour per day free of charge. When not in use the bikes go back on a Tar Heel Bikes Hub. Interactive maps can be particularly useful when trying to find these racks.
Improving Carolina’s Bicycle Resources
It can be intimidating to use a bike when you aren’t sure where to lock it up, how to load it on a bus, or where you can shower post ride on campus. On Franklin Street, there is a demo in front of Carolina Coffee Shop where you learn how to put your bike on the bus rack. I am creating an interactive map that includes this landmark as well as all UNC bike racks, Tar Heel Bike Hubs, and amenities such as showers, bike repair stations, and covered bike rack areas.
Image from move.unc.edu
The university can increase the amount of bicycle parking at popular destinations such as classroom buildings, dorms, and sports facilities such as the Dean Dome. Other recommendations to make UNC a more bike friendly campus include lowering the speed limit to 20 mph on campus streets and placing way-finding signage at strategic locations around campus.
This internship has helped open my eyes to the intricate workings of transportation systems and the methods behind getting an infrastructure mapped on programs such as ArcGIS. Improving the existing bike resources available to students will help make UNC a more bike friendly environment. By doing this I hope to make the university more accessible to all students no matter how they travel around campus.
Out for a bike ride at Umstead Park in Chapel Hill.
To learn more about the bicycle programs at UNC visit: https://move.unc.edu/bike/
For more information about student internship opportunities through the EcoStudio visit: https://ecostudio.unc.edu/