The League of American Bicyclists—the premier grassroots advocacy organization encouraging better bicycling and protecting the rights of people who bike—has honored Santa Monica College (SMC) with its second consecutive Silver-level Bicycle Friendly University (BFU) award in recognition of the institution’s achievements in promoting and enabling safe, accessible bicycling on campus. SMC remains the only California community college to be designated a Bike Friendly University, and is one of 37 institutes of higher education nationwide to earn a bronze, silver, or gold designation from the league. The designation is good for four years.

“I am pleased to celebrate 37 new and renewing Bicycle Friendly Universities joining the movement to build a Bicycle Friendly America for everyone,” said Bill Nesper, executive director of the League of American Bicyclists. “Bicycle Friendly Universities, like Santa Monica College, offer a far more holistic experience of campus life for students, faculty and staff by implementing policies, programs and infrastructure improvements that make for safer and easier car-free commutes, healthier lives through increased physical activity and a campus community more connected to its surroundings.”

“During the first couple of years of the pandemic many started biking to get fresh air and exercise. Now that we are mostly back on-ground, SMC is encouraging students and staff to keep the good habit rolling,” said Ferris Kawar, SMC sustainability manager. “Thanks to efforts by the City of Santa Monica to build more safe cycling lanes, those returning to campus will find more protected bike routes (especially on Broadway, 17th Street, and Walgrove). These factors and more helped SMC earn yet another Silver award.”

Santa Monica College encourages bicycling as an easy option for transportation, Kawar added. “SMC employees and volunteers refurbished over 115 bikes which were donated to low-income students who needed a way to continue to be mobile in the height of COVID-19,” he said. “Also, the college provides plentiful bicycle parking, free classes on bicycle repairs, and quarterly drawings for prizes to encourage employees to bicycle to campus. 

The Bicycle Friendly University program now includes 221 colleges and universities in 47 states and the District of Columbia, and is part of the League’s Bicycle Friendly America program, which also awards communities and businesses with certifications as part of its mission to make bicycling safe, comfortable and more accessible for all.    

“This round of Bicycle Friendly Universities demonstrates an inspiring shift in focus from driving to biking and walking on campus,” said the League’s Bicycle Friendly America program director Amelia Neptune. “What’s clear is that making bicycling a go-to transportation option is part of the solution many colleges and universities are using to better the campus life of their communities and we are grateful to have so many partners in our effort to keep the bike boom going!”   

As Santa Monica College continues to improve campus accessibility by bike, it will have access to a variety of free tools, a library of resources, and technical assistance from the League to become even more welcoming to people who bike. When colleges and universities invest in the comfort and safety of people bicycling, it creates benefits for the environment and for its community, from reducing the carbon footprint to providing students with a low or no-cost commuting and parking options.

To learn more about the free BFU program, visit the League online at bikeleague.org/university. To learn more about bike programs at SMC, visit smc.edu/sustainability and view “Transportation Options.”

Grace Smith

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