When it comes to commuting, MacEwan staff and faculty can get pretty creative. Jeff Stepnisky rides his longboard alongside his five-year-old daughter Nora’s tricked out pink bike on the way to school and then finishes his commute by LRT. Shea Wang and Nicholas Boers navigate the river valley paths on their tandem bike and several people are rumoured to make the one-hour trek each way from Sherwood Park.
Fair-weather or foul-weather cyclists?
In May, the university’s sustainability office asked staff and faculty how they get to work and more than 1,000 people answered the call. Results show that a small number of hardy respondents ride their bikes to the university year-round. Jacqueline Devlin and John O’Connor are among them – most of the time.
The couple agrees that the cold really isn’t so bad. “If you’re dressed properly, it’s actually quite comfortable even at -15 degrees,” says John who rides until the snow gets too deep and then opts for the bus. “You feel invigorated when you get to work.”
Not surprisingly, survey results show that when the mercury rises, so does the number of cyclists who commute. Finding ways to inspire even more people to choose sustainable ways of getting to the university – including cycling – is the motivation behind the survey.
“This survey gives us some benchmark data on how people are choosing to get to campus. From here, we’ll be crunching the numbers and using the data to do things like calculating our greenhouse gas inventory and building our bicycle plan,” says Emma Shipalesky, sustainability coordinator.
New station makes maintenance easier
A self-service bike maintenance station which will be installed in the Robbins Parkade this summer is one of the first steps in making cycling a more attractive way to get to the university. Purchased with funds from a National Union of Students grant awarded for the university’s participation in the Green Impact program, the station will make it easier for students, staff and faculty who commute using two wheels instead of four to maintain their rides.
“We hope that making it easy for bike commuters to tune their bikes up and fix anything that might go wrong will play a part in promoting more cycling on campus,” says Lauren Mickel, vice-president Student Life with the Students’ Association of MacEwan University, who helped decide how to use the grant. “For students, especially, having the tools to be able to do the work themselves lets them save extra expenses and use their limited resources in other ways.”
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