Archive for October, 2008

Fighting Car Culture – Colleges Give Free Bikes To Frosh

This came up in The New York Times:

Published: October 19, 2008

BIDDEFORD, Me. — When Kylie Galliani started at the University of New England in August, she was given a key to her dorm, a class schedule and something more unusual: a $480 bicycle.

“I was like, ‘A free bike, no catch?’ ” Ms. Galliani, 17, a freshman from Fort Bragg, Calif., asked. “It’s really an ideal way to get around the campus.”

University administrators and students nationwide are increasingly feeling that way too.

The University of New England and Ripon College in Wisconsin are giving free bikes to freshmen who promise to leave their cars at home. Other colleges are setting up free bike sharing or rental programs, and some universities are partnering with bike shops to offer discounts on purchases.

The goal, college and university officials said, is to ease critical shortages of parking and to change the car culture that clogs campus roadways and erodes the community feel that comes with walking or biking around campus.

“We’re seeing an explosion in bike activity,” said Julian Dautremont-Smith, associate director of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, a nonprofit association of colleges and universities. “It seems like every week we hear about a new bike sharing or bike rental program.”

Read The Full Article HERE.

This kind of thing is an excellent way to help break the mindset that you NEED a car.

There are two problem I could see coming up with this type of program.

1. Theft: Always a big issue on a college campus (particularity here at the U of M). The article states that students are also given locks, but some extra measure would need to be taken to have the bikes in a secure area overnight.

2. Service: Bikes aren’t toys. Like any vehicle they require a sense of responsibility, and maintaining the equipment is a big part of that. The schools would need to enter into a relationship with a local shop who agrees to provide routine maintanence to the bikes for an annual fee.

I would imagine that the schools get the bikes directly through a manufacturer which means that the local shop is loosing out on bike sales (not good), but if they were contracted by the school to provide maintenance, that would be a way for the local shop to support the program and not get burned on the loss of sales. Shops would also benefit on building a relationship with the student for other bike related needs.

There would need to be a clear guidelines on what the school will pay for with regard to the maintenance, and what they won’t (new chains annually, new rubber when needed), so that student don’t go dirt jumping and expect the school to pay for new wheels when they trash them (let’s face, it 17 and 18 year-olds are generally irresponsible and foolish), but as long as students agree to be generally responsible for the upkeep and security of the bike, I think this is a great new step.

If a student gets trough four years at school sans car, I’d be willing to be, they would carry that habit into their work-a-day livlihood.


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Remember that you heard it here first

I was a bit shocked to see this article on the front page of the Homes section of the StarTribune yesterday.

Not shocked that this model of selling homes to bike friendly/environmentally conscious people is growing.

But that I was not approached to talk about it.

I am well acquainted with Harry, the gentleman profiled in the article. In fact he was one of my customers at The Alt for many years.

I guess I’m just not very press friendly.

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Ghost Bike Memorial Ride to Honor Fallen Bicyclists

There has been a lot of tragic news about cyclists dying lately.

The news has picked up on it.

Some of it is supportive of cyclists and the movement toward non-motorized commuting.

Some of it makes it sound like cycling is an “un-safe” choice.

Show your support of cycling and honor those who have fallen.

Minneapolis / St.PaulOctober 2008 – This Saturday, the bicycle community will come together to honor the memory of cyclists who have been killed in recent accidents on Twin Cities streets. A memorial ride will visit the sites of three of the most recent crashes, where “Ghost Bikes” have been placed as a memorial to the victims. For more info on Ghost Bikes please visit

Family, friends and cyclists are invited to participate in this group ride. Organizers are asking that participating cyclists please wear a black shirt with orange ribbon around their arm or handlebars. Ribbon will be provided for those who need it.

What: Memorial Ride to Honor Fallen Bicyclists

13.6 miles for Twin Cities route (

14.3 miles extra for Blaine route (

Where: Meet on the traffic island at Summit and Snelling Avenues in St.Paul

When: This Saturday, October 4th, 2008. Meet at 10:30 am; depart 11:00 am

Contact: or 612-276-1008

The ride will begin at Summit and Snelling Avenues near the ghost bike memorial for Virginia Heuer Bower. It will then head west down Lake Street to Excelsior and West 32nd Street, the ghost bike memorial for Jimmy Nisser. The ride will then head back up Excelsior/Lake, then northeast on Hennepin to the ghost bike memorial for Nik Morton.

There is an unrelated “group photo” event at 3pm at Gold Medal Park (the red square on the bikemap) and participants are welcome to continue on to be part of the “Unite Bike” group photograph:

In the afternoon, another ride will head to Blaine in order to place a Ghost Bike at Central and Cloverleaf, where cyclist Dale Aanenson was killed.

Riders are expected to be orderly and respectful of traffic. If you are riding recklessly, you will be asked to leave.

More discussion on the memorial ride can be found on the community message board Minneapolis Bike Love:

Information about the victims of these tragedies can be found here:

Dale Phillip Aanenson –

Virginia M. Heuer –

Nik Morton –

Jimmy Nisser –

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