Environmental Concerns

Currently, Western Washington University exceeds the legal limit for stormwater pollution. Due to a tight budget, WWU does not have the money to regulate storm water from parking lot discharge (such as debris, metal, tar, oil and other pollutants). As a result, parking services is under pressure to pave the parking lots on south campus which would cost approximately $5 million and could not be completed all at once (long-term solution). As a result, Western’s Parking and Transportation Advisory Committee is proposing to increase parking permit rates to generate funds to address the runoff. Making carpool passes more expensive and discouraging carpoolers to get to work. Revamping pass cost is beneficial, however, there is a price tag associated with addressing the problem to storm water drains near campus (http://issuu.com/wwu_planet/docs/planet_43).

WWU needs to invest in one of these puppies just in case the south campus parking lot turns into an ice sheet winter quarter..http://www.bicycling.com/bikes-gear/bikes-and-gear-features/ice-bikes-add-appeal-winter-riding?adbid=10152979901951670&adbpl=fb&adbpr=24470421669&cid=socBG_20141230_38050017

Environmental Concerns

Winter Break Blurb

Food for thought:

I wonder what employment would have looked like during the Industrial Revolution if we put more of an emphasis on bike manufacturing over the Model T Ford. How different would our populous and environmental health concern be if humans never relied on the auto business to begin with? According to Molly Hurford’s bicycling economics article, “the cycling industry is Europe provides about 150,000 more jobs than Ford, GM, and Chrysler combined.” This pushes the incentive to expand the cycling industry and put a less emphasis on the automotive industry. It seems to be a no brainer that bicycling improves health and wellness for the rider and environment. Europeans beat us by a landslide and are three times more likely to ride.

How can we push Americans to ride more often? We can push people to ride by making riding more suitable for people by making sure riders feel comfortable with sharing the road. A bike advocacy organization, PeopleforBikes, raises many interesting efforts to protect bike lanes, distribute community cycling grants, lobby elected officials, and provided statistical work to better the organization at large. Grant money has been siphoned to create bike paths, lanes and trails across the country. PeopleforBikes has quite lofty goals for 2025. Their 5X initiative entails:

-Annual bike rides taken by Americans, from 4 billion to 20 million

-Protected bike lanes in U.S. cities, from 200 to 1,000 lanes

miles of singletrack trails for mountain biking

-Dollars invest publicly and privately in bicycling, from $2 billion to $10 billion

In regards to cycling rules of the road, we are well aware that bicycles should stop at a stop sign but lets be honest, how many people do California rolls through stop signs? I can say I do it all the time, if necessary (and I still have a clean driving record..knock on wood). Did you know: NYC drivers collectively run 1.23 million red lights per day. This is a bit startling but then again it happens in this fasted paced world that we live in. Sidewalks and bike lanes are shrinking and lane widths are increasing. As a result, crosswalks and on-street parking has been reduced ten fold. Being smart on the road is one thing, but following the rulebook 24/7 seems like overkill to me. Traffic laws are some of the least important and most commonly disregarded rules on our books.

In regards to safety, being too cool to wear a helmet is silly..wear your helmet and your cerebellum will thank you later. No one wants to be liable for driving behind a reckless biker on the side of the road doing pop wheelies (regardless of the biker’s competency level). YOLO (*you only live once and you ONLY get one cerebral cortex. In the next generation, we can expect lab rats to come up with brain cell regeneration so down the road would probably be a better time to be more lenient with wearing a helmet and taking more stupid risks.

“The CDC notes that though only one percent of trips are made by bike in the US, cyclists face a higher risk of crash-related injuries than drivers. Around 700 people on bikes are killed a year on the road, and cyclists occasionally hit and injure or kill pedestrians.”

Redesigning streets emphasizing on larger bike lanes will in fact reduce fatality on the road and slow down automobiles tremendously. Plus, it is a great way to promote people to bicycle over drive.

http://www.bicycling.com/news/featured-stories/could-bikes-save-economy

http://www.bicycling.com/blogs/thehub/peopleforbikes-reaches-1-million-supporters

http://www.wired.com/2014/11/9-things-drivers-need-stop-saying-bikes-vs-cars-debate/

Cyclo UPDATE:

After countless meetings with staff from various departments on campus, we are still trying to lift the pilot project off the ground and get approval from Green Energy Fee Grant Program (Learn more about GEF: http://www.wwu.edu/sustain/programs/gef/).

In our down time, we will continue to strive to make more headway on this project by sorting out various managerial decisions regarding our proposed budget and adjust our pilot size based on riding needs and demand. It has been difficult to define the scope of the project since we have been pulled in many directions to attempt to find the right size pilot for short and long-term use. Although many people have applied for a bike grant on campus some groups have been successful. We are meeting up with a group in January who had a similar proposal in hopes to see if it is worth our time to join arms with the other group to make the pilot run smother and improve efficiency.

Winter Break Blurb

Laying Down the Framework

Welcome to our Electric bike blog!

Looking forward to collaborating here to share our project with y’all!

We are so excited to get this project off the ground! I am so thankful to be a part of this amazing crew of knowledgeable, supportive, and enthusiastic group. We have applied for a Green Energy Fee Grant to the GEF Grant Program Coordinator two weeks ago so fingers crossed!

Project Proposal:

Our team will pilot an electric bike leasing program for the Western community.  We envision a long-term program focusing on leasing electric-assist bikes to faculty, staff, students and campus offices on a quarterly or annual basis.  For the pilot, we will recruit people to commute or make work trips on electric bikes during spring quarter, contribute to a collaborative blog, and provide feedback to the team.  A bike will be kept on campus and checked-out on a 24 hour basis to people interested in leasing in subsequent quarters.  The pilot will include a comprehensive package of accessories to facilitate success within a limited time-frame, while the long-term program will likely include fewer items.  The team will document lessons learned and costs, and develop pricing, maintenance and administration plans for a long-term leasing program.

To gauge interest in the pilot, the team advertised for interested participants via word-of-mouth and a Bullseye message to students living off-campus and holding parking passes.  We received responses from a wide range of people interested in riding and being a part of the project.

Purpose:

The purpose of this project is to make electric bikes available to the Western community without the up-front costs, risk, and required equipment knowledge normally associated with purchasing an e-bike.  There are two distinct areas where this program could facilitate reduction in car trips.

  1. There are members of the campus community who would like to bike to work, and probably would do so except for the hill, distance, initial investment, equipment knowledge and/or research.   An electric bike leasing program could address these issues by reducing the barrier of distance/hill, eliminating the initial investment, providing an opportunity to see someone do it successfully, facilitating maintenance and charging, and eliminating the research and knowledge needed to choose equipment, and providing an exit strategy should they decide it’s not for them.
  2. Western staff currently use fleet vehicles to travel between campus locations, such as 32nd street and main campus.  Electric bikes would provide a low-cost, low-impact alternative.

Green Energy Fee Grant Program Mission:

The electric bike leasing pilot aligns with all three aspects of the Green Energy Fee Grant Program mission.

  1. Providing an opportunity for Hayley and Alec to apply strategies and best practices learned in the classroom and gain real-life project experience.  Specifically, students will drive the market research, communications, and equipment & technology specification aspects of this project experience.
  2. It reduces the environmental impact of the campus community by converting car trips to bike trips.
  3. It raises community awareness of the electric bike as a viable transportation solution, and our engagement in pioneering ways to overcome barriers to effective solutions

Does your project tie into any broader campus sustainability goals or initiatives?

The electric bike leasing pilot ties into two campus sustainability goals or initiatives, in addition to addressing employee health and university operating costs.

  1. Climate neutrality: in 2011, car trips made by commuters, between campus stations and for errands from campus comprised 5.8% of Western’s carbon emissions.
  2. Campus commuter challenge: the program would directly address all three areas of the challenge, reducing drive alone trips, congestion and environmental harm
  3. Employee wellness: bicycle commuting has been associated with lower healthcare costs, lower absenteeism, and weight management.
  4. Cost savings: converting car trips to bike trips saves the university money by reducing parking demand.

Let me introduce the team…drum roll ladies and gents:

Beth Hartsoch is our project advisor. She is part of the Office of Survey Research and has been a great asset to the team as our Research Analyst.. (I knew we were going to get along perfectly when we realized two weeks into the project at Elizabeth station that we BOTH went to Gonzaga. I am glad I am not the only one on campus being a traitor and wearing red and blue on game days. GO ZAGS!) Beth has commuted to Western by bike since beginning employment here in 2007.  In total, cycled as her primary commute mode for fifteen years.  As a cyclist and advocate of bicycles for transportation she served on the Bellingham Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, and is a member of the Kulshan Cycling Ambassador Program.  In 2013, she was the primary organizer of local women athletes lobbying the Ski to Sea committee for inclusion of the local women’s division, and through that work developed relationships with many local businesses, organizations and leaders interested in cycling and thinking creatively about how we transport ourselves.  She has a particular interest in creative bicycle engineering, including cargo bikes, family bikes,  and electric assist bikes, and have used a bakfiets as a primary transportation mode for my family since 2010. Her best qualification is that she has little knowledge of the minutia of bicycle component choices and associated caveats and just wanted her bike to work when she rides it. Her goal is to make bicycle commuting available to others who feel the same way.

Hayley Trageser is the CBE Business&Sustainability/Cycology student lead  (aka the blogger..I am sure that was the dead give away from my Viking traitor comments above. Sorry Vikes, I will always be a Zag at heart). I have been riding my bike ever since elementary school. My mother’s trip across America on two wheels has inspired me to be one with my saddle. I am a sucker for studio spins..you will more than likely find me on a stationary bike in the yoga studio spinning to insanely loud music overlooking the track or tootling around town on my road rider on Old Samish Road or Chuckanut Drive. I plan to use my business and sustainability expertise to implement new ideas for the pilot project by nailing down marketing techniques, consulting with key players, as well as lead the team to accomplishing goals each week. Looking forward to learning and growing as a team over the next few months! This is exciting stuff!

Alec Darr, a sophisticated non-native Industrial Technology- Vehicle Design student from Utah is the mechanic brain of our operation. He is an avid mountain biker. His time in Bellingham as a student has taught him how useful a bike can be for trips within the community. Any opportunity to work with vehicles, both powered and unpowered is always one he will pursue. This project is of specific interest to him because he will be able to apply what he has learned while also being part of a project that seeks to solve many of the problems faced by professionals in the industry that he will be working with after graduating from Western Washington University. The skill set he will bring to the project is a technical knowledge of bikes and an understanding of mechanical and electric drive systems from both experience and my time at WWU. Alec was also a durability testing engineer co-op student at Harley-Davidson Motorcycles which gave him extensive training in data tracking, component and vehicle research, and professional engineering communication. In short, my skill set will ensure that the technical and operational requirements for the equipment are as fully met as possible while documenting and communicating the information required to achieve that goal.

Last but not least, Jenny Hoover, IT Specialist of the group. She has used bikes for her primary mode of commuting transportation for over ten years, beginning in Chicago, and continuing for my nine year residence in Bellingham.  She been interested in ways to make cycling as a means of transportation more available to a wider population. The electric bike leasing pilot project is particularly interesting to Jenny because it has the potential to reach populations currently underserved by bicycle commuting options. Like Beth, Jenny has years of experience commuting by bicycle in a wide variety of weather and traffic conditions, but more interested in riding bikes than working on them. Jenny’s experience will be helpful to inform the design and practical requirements for the pilot program.

Shout outs to Dean, Sustainable Transportation Office, Outdoor Center Bike Shop, and Risk Management for all of the support! Rock on..Stay tuned for more to come soon!

 

 

 

Laying Down the Framework