Top 10 Bike-Friendly College Campuses across California for 2019

Posted by Jeffrey J Smith on August 6th, 2019

Whether your school of choice is a large university or a small liberal arts college, if you’re an avid cyclist or simply want to cut down on your motorized vehicle use, you’ll benefit from knowing which colleges and universities qualify as being bike friendly.

There are a few ways to determine if your school of choice is going to provide the value you need. For many, tuition is one of the most important parameters used to make the big decision, but there are other factors that come into play. Some people are looking to go to school in the city, some prefer a more pastoral setting, and some look at the level of bike-ability a college or university offers.

Founded in 1880, the League of Americal Bicyclists represents bicyclists in the movement to create safer roads, stronger communities, and a bicycle-friendly America.  As part of this effort the League publishes a list of America’s Bicycle Friendly Universities (BFU’s) which recognizes colleges and universities for “promoting and providing a more bikeable campus for students, staff and visitors”. The best BFUs include large research universities, urban universities, and small liberal arts colleges.

Here, Value Colleges take a look at the best of the best. The first five on the VC ranking are universities who currently hold a platinum rating from the League of American Bicyclists. The second half are the top five small liberal arts colleges that also made the cut and are recognized as Bicycle Friendly Universities. They are listed here in the order they appear on the BFU Award List.

1. Stanford University                                                                                                                 

Stanford University is top of the list with a Platinum-level rating because of its large number of bike-related programs and resources. Stanford promotes biking in many ways, such as by making route maps available, offering bike safety classes and providing repair stands.

If you watch Stanford’s Then and Now presentation which is housed on the university’s website, you’ll learn that “bicycling has been a popular method of getting around Stanford since the university’s beginnings and, today, there are about 13,000 cyclists on the Stanford campus every day.”

Stanford’s bike program includes numerous support programs for safe biking as well as making taking transit with your bike easier. Bike racks are available on all Stanford Marguerite buses.  If you attend Stanford, among other bicycle-related activities, you can take part in their free bike safety classes. You can even rent or purchase a folding bicycle.

BFU Award Level: Platinum

Number of Students: 16,176

2. University of California, Davis                                                                                             

Home to the US Bicycling Hall of Fame, Davis, California, has been called “The Bicycle Capital of America” because so many people there ride bikes. It has a history of being a bike friendly place. The streets are wide, it has a great network of greenways and bike paths, and there are no extreme hills. Indeed, Davis may have more bikes than any other city.

The University of California, Davis is the second school to earn the esteemed Platinum-level Bicycle Friendly University ranking from the League of America Bicyclists.

With 20,500 bicycles on campus a day, the 5,300-acre campus is where the bicycle roundabout, which is now used at other schools to handle the large number of bicyclists on campus, was invented.

UC Davis was founded in 1905 and it is known for outstanding academics, sustainability and valuing the Northern California lifestyle.

BFU Award Level: Platinum

Number of Students: 33,300

3. Colorado State University                                                                                                     

Colorado State University resides in a community known throughout the nation for its love of bikes. Colorado State’s Campyus Bike Advisory Company's mission is to promote a safe and enjoyable bicycle experience through awareness, planning and education. They encourage the environmental benefits of bicycles as affordable green-transportation for CSU’s campus community and CSU is alive with bikes. There are more than 23,600 bikes are registered to be on campus on any given day and CSU is very proud to be one of only five schools in the country to attain Platinum status as a Bicycle Friendly University.

Regarding the university’s award Lynn Johnson, vice president for Operations said “While riding a bike has always been a mode of choice on campus, we’ve particularly made great strides in the last few years in infusing bicycling on and to campus into our infrastructure. This recognition is a great demonstration of our commitment to sustainability, as well as to providing safe, smart commuting options to our students, faculty and staff.”

While CSU is considered a  Best Value Online Colleges for 2017, it also offers a thriving, very bikeable campus life to those looking for a more traditional university experience.

BFU Award Level: Platinum

Number of Students: 31,725

4. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities                                                                                  

At U of M they know that cycling to school has many benefits – like being a healthy and affordable way to get around. If you attend the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities you can participate in The Zap!, a bike commuter program which provides an incentive for cyclists. You can get prizes and for riding your bike around campus. The program uses something called Dero ZAP RFID hardware and software – which is an automated bike commuting recognition system developed at the University of Minnesota. So, you don’t have to track your biking data – you focus on enjoying the ride while the equipment records your trip.

Additionally, there are over 9,000 bicycle racks, or hoops, located around campus making it easy to store your bike while you’re inside and lockers are available to rent.

BFU Award Level: Platinum

Number of Students: 51,000

5. Portland State University                                                                                                      

Portland State University is located at the center of what is known as “the city of roses” and it is one of the fifty most affordable college towns in the U.S.  Portland, Oregon is famous for its environmentally conscious lifestyle, with its high walkability, large cycling community, and more than 10,000 acres of park space. It’s no surprise that the university has achieved Platinum status as a Bicycle Friendly University.

Portlad State University has many programs designed to promote and support cycling and more and more students and staff use bikes to get around PSU every year. The university’s efforts aren’t limited to university organizations. Portland State partners with the city of Portland and other businesses to enable and support a biking culture. BIKETOWN is Portland’s bike share system with 1,000 bikes at 100 stations across the central city and close-in neighborhoods. If you tour PSU you’ll see the bright orange Nike-sponsored Biketown bike share stations. For a fee of five dollars a month PSU students can sign up for a BIKETOWN membership. PSU has stations in four locations across campus.

The PSU Bike Hub is an on-campus bike shop for PSU students & employees.  They offer short-term bike rentals to PSU students and the general public.  The Bike Hub also runs a VikeBike program for PSU faculty and staff which provides a free commuter bicycle.

Because of the rainy season many cities in the Northwest are known for, the University plans bike challenges to get people out and riding. PSU also has multiple covered bike garages where you can park your bicycle and keep it dry, as well as use free repair stands. Clint Culpepper, bicycle program coordinator for the PSU BikeHub said: “We want to make it as easy as possible for people to try bike commuting. It’s fun, healthy, less expensive and often much quicker than driving or riding transit.”

BFU Award Level: Platinum

Number of Students: 28,241

6. Bowdoin College                                                                                                                     

Small coastal New England towns like Brunswick, Maine where Bowdoin College is located have a certain undeniable charm. Not only is Bowdoin on the list of Bicycle Friendly Universities with a Silver-level designation, but the town of Brunswick has earned the League of American Bicyclists “Bicycle-Friendly Community” title.

Bowdoin has a student-run Yellow Bike Program, whose missionis to provide an affordable means of communal transportation for the Bowdoin community in a healthy and environmentally friendly (carbon-free) way, and in the process, help alleviate parking and traffic issues on campus and in Brunswick.

The Yellow Bike Club enables members to rent bikes and locks. Trained peer mechanics keep the bikes rolling, and Yellow Bike offers a training course each winter.

Bowdoin, with its flat campus and picturesque New England setting, is a top notch college in a town with programs and infrastructure that supports a thriving cycling culture.

BFU Award Level: Silver

Number of Students: 1,834


7. Dickinson College                                                                                                                    

Dickinson College was founded by Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.  If you visit the Dickinson College website, you’ll learn that the college was chartered in 1783, just days after the conclusion of the American Revolution with the specific purpose of preparing the citizens and leaders who would ensure the success of the new democracy.

Dickinson, follows a tradition of encouraging students to be enterprising and active by engaging their communities, the nation and the world and provides a very bicycle friendly college experience.

While there, you’ll have access to Dickinson’s bicycle co-operative called The Handlebar, which is run by volunteers.  There you can learn how to fix your own bike. If you put down a refundable deposit you can rent a Green Bike for the semester. These bikes are built by volunteers from The Handlebar.

Dickinson offers free use of their well-known Red Bikes to students and their families, visitors, staff, and faculty. Take a Red Bike out for the day or just a few hours.

As far as parking goes, Dickinson definitely has you covered. You can use one of their many indoor or outdoor bike racks as well as store your bike long-term during the summer and winter breaks when you’re not at school.

At Dickinson, the Bicycle Advisory Committee continues to focus on enhancing the cycling culture and promoting a Bike Friendly Dickinson.

BFU Award Level: Silver

Number of Students: 2,396

8. Champlain College                                                                                                                  

Founded in 1878, Champlain College is a small, not-for-profit, private college overlooking Lake Champlain and Burlington, Vermont, with additional campuses in Montreal, Canada, and Dublin, Ireland. Champlain’s career-driven approach to higher education prepares students for their professional life from their very first semester.

Champlain has a safety program which offers helmets for purchase at a low cost, two indoor bike storage rooms that can be used by residential students and employees and they partner with the Chittenden Area Transportation Management Association (CATMA) to bring a bike/walk rewards program to members of the Champlain College community.

CATMA gives people who bike 24 times in a 60-day period a gift card for spending at any one of three local businesses. Participants will gain entry into a quarterly prize drawing whenever they log your commute.

Champlain College is a particularly bike friendly campus earning it a Silver-level ranking and was named the #1 Most Innovative School in the North in U.S. News and World Report’s America’s Best Colleges 2016 ranking for making the most innovative improvements in terms of curriculum, faculty, students, campus life, technology or facilities.

BFU Award Level: Silver

Number of Students: 3,780  

9. Pomona College                                                                                                                      

Established in 1887, Pomona College is a private liberal arts college in Claremont, California, about 35 miles east of Los Angeles and within an hour of the mountains, desert and California beaches.

Pomona students use bikes to get around campus and take advantage of the many bike racks available. Pomona Students can also be found riding their bikes into the nearby Claremont Village.

Green Bikes is a student-run group at Pomona that repairs and services student, faculty, and staff bicycles for free and also sells new and used parts at discounted rates.  The Bike Giveaway, a semesterly raffle, awards over 300 students with free bikes for the semester.

Green Bikes is one of many campus resources at Pomona that exemplifies the college’s commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility.

BFU Award Level: Bronze

Number of Students: 1,581

10. Colorado College                                                                                                                   

According to US News and World Report, Colorado College is a private institution that was founded in 1874. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 2,118, its setting is city, and the campus size is 90 acres. Colorado College was ranked number 24 in the 2017 edition of Best Colleges is National Liberal Arts Colleges.

The Bike co-op at Colorado College supports the school’s bike culture and sustainability initiatives by providing bicycle maintenance education, refurbished bike sales, and monthly events to engage the campus community.

At the college’s Bike Auction and Gear Sale students can look at and buy cruiser bikes for ten to twenty-fie dollars, bid on auctioned bikes, and bargain for used outdoor gear.

In fall 2015, CC students launched CCycle— a campus bike-sharing program that provides affordable alternative transportation for students. Students paid each for membership giving them access to a fleet of 10 cruisers.

Strong support for a bicycle culture isn’t the only thing that’s interesting and good about Colorado College. It also operates on a “Block plan.”  Implemented in 1970, the “Block Plan” is allows students to study a different subject every three and a half weeks instead of balancing several throughout a semester. Students take one course at a time and professors teach one, with each block covering the same amount of material as a semester system.

BFU Award Level: Bronze 

Number of Students: 2,096  

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Jeffrey J Smith

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Jeffrey J Smith
Joined: August 6th, 2019
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