by Alana J. Mauger, Think Green Editor
After two years on the honorable mention list, Montgomery County Community College joins Santa Monica College as the first community colleges in the country to achieve the bronze Bicycle Friendly University (BFU) designation from the League of American Bicyclists.
“As an institution, we focused on specific areas of improvement and added bike-related services over the last three years to take the next step in being a Bicycle Friendly University,” said Gregg Heimer, a senior network engineer who also serves as the College’s Bike Advocacy Committee chair. “We are extremely proud to be recognized for our biking leadership and advocacy at the community college level.”
Last year, Heimer and fellow Montgomery cyclists formed a Bike Advocacy Committee that works with the institution’s Climate Commitment Advisory Council to promote biking safety and best practices. The group organizes weekend rides—including participation in the 2014 LIVESTRONG Challenge Philly and National Bike Challenge—as well as films and exhibits at both of the College’s campuses.
The group, which includes representation from the Greater Valley Forge Transportation Management Association (GVF), also works with the College’s facilities and public safety teams to map out optimal bike routes, include bike mounts on the transportation shuttle that operates between campuses, and establish bicycle maintenance facilities.
“Looking forward, we hope to increase biking awareness through local partnerships, improve upon our community infrastructure to urge bike commuting on campus, and become a role model for similar community colleges across the country,” said Heimer, who is an avid cyclist and Ironman tri-athlete.
Montgomery’s Bicycle Advocacy Committee is already hard at work on its goals for the 2014-15 academic year. These include partnering with local bike shops for cycling skills classes; establishing bicycle rack standardization across campuses; helping to facilitate monthly student bike rides in coordination with the student-run Adventure Club; and adopting a bicycle policy for inclusion in student handbooks. The group also hopes to enhance its web presence with additional biking resources and to make bike routes accessible on mobile devices.
“Once bicycle riding becomes the norm here, our students will expect, and perhaps demand, bicycle friendly facilities at their transfer institutions and even in their home communities,” shared Heimer.
In addition, because a significant portion of the College’s carbon footprint comes from commuter emissions, increased bike riding will help Montgomery reach its goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.
While the College is engaged in bicycle improvements and initiatives across all of its campuses, the West Campus—located in a downtown business district by the western trailhead of the Schuylkill River Trail—is especially ideal for biking. In fact, students, faculty and staff can take advantage of Bike Pottstown’s free community bike share program, with several bikes available for loan onsite at the Schuylkill River Academic and Heritage Center.
Montgomery County Community College joins 100 Bike Friendly Universities in 37 states and Washington D.C., including nine of the top 10 national universities in the country as ranked by U.S. News & World Report. MCCC was among the first community colleges to apply for BFU status two years ago, and became among the first to achieve it on Oct. 22, 2014 along with Santa Monica College in California.
Visit mc3.edu/about-us/directions-and-maps for biking maps of the College’s Central and West campuses.