ON THE FRONT LINES: Rutgers bike-friendly image is half-hearted
Other than the perfect, racially-balanced group photos, sweeping landscapes and athletic hype, there is one thing that nearly every college admissions video has in common — students biking.
Until this semester, the idea of having a bike was exactly that, an idea. With a complicated academic schedule and a need to get to and from The Daily Targum, I quickly realized I would need an alternate form of transportation. The main reason I need a bike is because, though I live on the College Avenue campus, my car is stationed on Busch campus due to the University’s removal of parking on College Avenue (more on that later). With that, I began to look into the logistics of bike ownership here at Rutgers, and boy was I in for a treat:
This is the area with the least of my gripes as it does not involve the University if you choose an outside vendor. Though Rutgers does offer a bike rental program for $25 per semester, it is a beach-cruiser, which is not entirely suitable for an urban commute. With that being said, I do appreciate Rutgers’ effort to make bikes more available.
After spending a considerable amount of money on your bike, the next step is to find a place to store it. For me, this is a necessity because New Brunswick’s record when it comes to bike theft is less than clean, and weather exposure will ruin a bike. Throughout Rutgers, there are many bike racks, but few of them have overhead awnings for weather protection, and even with that, driving in rain or snow will certainly rust the bike. While this may not seem like an issue to many, those who have spent the money know that rust is a fast-track to mechanism failure and a lack of transportation. The other option is a rentable bike locker, which is a great idea, but these only exist on Cook and Livingston campus — another half-hearted attempt by the University. Other schools, such as the University of Connecticut, have bike storage rooms which include vertical hooks that students can lock their bikes to and keep them out of the elements.
The Big Contradiction
Overall, Rutgers seems to be speaking out of both sides of its mouth. In mission, it promotes policies of environmental awareness and dissuades vehicles on campus, but simultaneously fails to give the students biking resources that would further these policies. When the University chose to remove parking along the College Avenue campus and replace it with bike lanes and walking paths, although there was outcry, it did go along with the aforementioned goals.
Moving forward, I believe the administration has a prime opportunity to improve upon its image and achieve its goals with the help of investment in biking on campus. The League of American Bicyclists releases a yearly report on Bicycle Friendly Universities (BFU), and in 2017, New Jersey had zero. This puts us in the ranks of Hawaii, Delaware, North Dakota and West Virginia. With proper investment and planning, Rutgers could become New Jersey’s first BFU and set a precedent for other NJ colleges/universities.