UNE's alternative transportation bike program!Biddeford, Maine — The University of New England's alternative transportation bike program continues to garner national news coverage, most recently in USA Today on Sept. 22, 2010.
The University of New England this past summer expanded its successful on-campus bicycle program to prospective students and their families by offering Admission tours of campus by bicycle, and new programs for existing students, as well.
In fall 2008, UNE launched its alternative transportation program by offering free bicycles or Zipcar usage to first-year resident students who promised not to bring cars to campus.
Considered one of the most comprehensive programs of its kind in the country, the program, featured in the New York Times, was a resounding success and will be offered again this fall to the first one hundred and twenty five first year resident students who opt into the program.
Since the program was initiated, the University has been able to close and convert a parking lot into recreation space without the need for additional parking. Program expansions in 2010 include free bicycle rentals, a "Blue Bike" program, and student bicycle tours throughout the surrounding area.
Visitors can participate in Admissions-led bicycle tours that travel through UNE's campus – classrooms, residence halls, and other spots of interest, including the scenic Hills Beach Road area just off-campus. The two-hour tour, conducted via brand-new L.L. Bean bikes, ends with lunch and an informative presentation at UNE's Windward Café. In the fall, the bicycles will be returned to UNE's Students Affairs department for use in its active on-campus bike programs.
UNE's alternative bicycle transportation program is a collaboration between the Admissions Office, Conference Services, Residential Housing and Education, Safety and Security, Orientation, Outdoor Recreation, and Sustainability departments.
Zachary Schmesser, UNE's coordinator of outdoor recreation, was hired last summer to create recreational activities for students. At that time, some first-year students who were not using their bikes donated them back to UNE. Some of the bikes were in disrepair, so Schmesser decided to create a new program modeled after the "Yellow Bike" program, a successful bike-sharing initiative in Portland, Oregon and other communities around the world.
In UNE's Blue Bike program, bikes will be repaired, painted blue, and spread out around campus so that students, faculty or staff who have registered for the program can borrow them on the go and leave them at another on-campus location. Some work-study students will be trained to work in the Blue Bike program, from repairing bikes and leading tours, to helping to manage the program.
Bicycle programs have existed at UNE for years as part of the first-year Orientation program. The Trailblazer Bike program allows students to come to campus a day early, get to know other students, and take a short ride exploring the surrounding area, including the East Point Bird Sanctuary in Biddeford Pool. With the expansion of the bicycle program, students can now continue riding well after Orientation. It has re-energized UNE's existing bicycle club.
(News release posted July 12, 2010)