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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Campus Guide: Pros outweigh cons for pedal-powered transit

    Editor’s note: This article is part of the Arizona Summer Wildcat’s 2014 Campus Guide. The Campus Guide is a special issue that runs every year to help introduce incoming students to the UA and campus life.

    Each school morning, a river of students flows down Tucson’s bikeways to converge into a sea of two-wheeled machines on the UA campus. With hundreds of bikes parked along the perimeter of the UA Mall, and a steady stream of cyclists weaving around buildings and pedestrians throughout the day, it is plain to see that many students feel the pros of commuting to school by bicycle outweigh the cons.

    For students who choose to walk or drive to campus, bicycles may seem an unnecessary hazard and inconvenience. The sheer volume of bicycle traffic can lead to crashes between cyclists, and the Tucson Sun Link Modern Streetcar route through campus has caused dozens of tires to slip in its tracks. A flat tire on a commute could cause tardiness, and bicycles can’t provide air conditioning or monsoon protection the way that cars can.

    Cars, however, come with inconveniences of their own. The expense of obtaining and maintaining an automobile, filling it with gas and keeping it insured is astronomically higher than the cost of owning a bicycle. A large shortage of parking availability on campus means that even if students do obtain a spot in a garage, it may not be close to where they need to go. For commuters traveling within a few miles of campus, traffic congestion in the area can easily make traveling to school by car take longer than traveling by bike.

    Easy bicycle access and bike racks throughout campus make riding to class a good option. Although bicycles require a bit of an initial investment, they are cheap and easy to keep rolling thanks to free services provided by the UA.

    UA Parking and Transportation Services offers (and highly recommends) free bike registration. This can be done online or at the Bike Valet or Bike Station on campus; the latter location sometimes offers free bike lights or bells along with registration.

    “[Registration] proves a record of ownership, acts as documentation for your insurance carrier, aids authorities in locating the owner of a stolen bike [and offers] free lock cutting service for UA-registered bikes on campus,” according to the PTS website.

    Bike registration is so important because, unfortunately, there is bicycle theft on campus. Owning a quality U-lock and securing both the front wheel and frame to a rack at all times is important. Alternatively, the UA provides a free bike valet service where students can relieve their worries about their bike’s safety. Student workers who man the valet trade numbered keychains for bicycles and guard the secured bike parking area from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on school days.

    Bicycles, like any machine, require maintenance. PTS, in conjunction with Pima County and the City of Tucson, provides a Bike Station on the mall three days a week where students can get free repairs for their bikes. The station also offers information on bicycle safety classes.

    Students who want to get around campus quickly but don’t want to worry about keeping and maintaining a bicycle can use the school’s bike share program. Nine locations on campus provide 24-hour free bicycle rentals to UA affiliates.

    One way or another, students need to get to class. Every mode of transportation comes with its own set of pros and cons. The UA’s efforts to promote bicycle safety and convenience on campus does not wipe away all concerns about commuting by bicycle, but definitely helps encourage the heavy flow of cyclists on campus.

    As an avid cyclist and member of UA Cycling Club, my opinion may be biased, but if students are looking for a cheap, efficient way to get to class and around town while getting a bit of exercise, commuting by bicycle is a great option.

    Allison is a sophomore studying creative writing. Follow her @allie_303

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