Pedal 4 Panther Pride on May 15

Join the crowd May 15!

Join the crowd May 15!

With spring here at last, more members of the campus community are hopping on bikes as part of their daily commute.

UWM is celebrating this year’s Bike to Work Day with a Pedal 4 Panther Pride on May 15.  Riders will meet at two off-campus locations at 7:30 a.m. and bike in together, gathering on Spaights Plaza at 8 a.m. This year’s gathering spots are in the parking lot at Hampton and Santa Monica/Wilson Drive near the Oak Leaf Trail, and at the McKinley Marina parking lot.

Robin van Harpen and Provost Johannes Brtiz joined in last year's ride.

Vice-chancellor for Finance & Administrative Affairs Robin van Harpen and Provost Johannes Brtiz joined in last year’s ride.

Special guest will be Keith Holt of Milwaukee Bicycle Works and southeast region director at the Wisconsin Bike Fed. Other details will be posted on the Bike2UWM web page (bike.uwm.edu) and the new Bike to UWM Facebook page (www.facebook.com/biketoUWM).

UWM’s bike commuters range from those who only come out when the weather warms up to hardy souls who biked through Wisconsin’s recent challenging winter.

Interim Chancellor Mark Mone is a regular bike commuter, and he hopes to keep riding as his schedule permits.

“I bike because I love to ride and have mileage goals that I try to achieve,” he says. “It is great exercise, saves gas, helps the environment, and manages stress – and, it’s a great way to spend time with colleagues and friends.”

Friend and colleague, UWM Provost Johannes Britz, bikes year-round and is an inspiration, Mone adds.

UWM riders head north to campus along the Oak Leaf Trail.

UWM riders head north to campus along the Oak Leaf Trail.

Anne Dressel, director of the Center for Global Health Equity in the College of Nursing, is a year-round bike commuter, too. She admits this winter was “a rough one.” But, she’s done the ride in dress shoes and a dress so it’s possible to commute in work clothes, she notes. “I actually like the way my hair looks when I take the helmet off.”

Kurt Young Binter, campus architect in Facilities Services, likes the smile factor. “I rarely smile and say hello on the way to work when I’m in my car, but I do it all the time on my bike.” While he draws the biking line at around 32 F, he finds the half-hour trip each way is a good way to build exercise into his schedule.

Jacques du Plessis, associate professor of information studies, has gotten more adventurous about year-round biking. “It can be challenging in inclement weather, but I have prepared for that, and now I find it a fun challenge to do bad weather cycling too.”

Summer biking activities
kick off after Bike to Work Day.
Pedal Prowls, a social bike ride program showcasing UWM’s connections with the city via bicycle, starts in June. The biking group will be organizing group rides to unique destinations and events every second Thursday of the month. Check out the website or Facebook page (www.facebook.com/biketoUWM) for the latest information.The Wisconsin Bike Fed is also signing up individuals and teams for its biking challenge. UWM will be part of the Wisconsin Bike Challenge. Go to wisconsinbikefed.org/events/bike-challenge/ to sign up.Biking is gearing up at UWM, according to Chief Sustainability Officer Kate Nelson.

Last year, the League of American Bicylists named UWM a Bicycle Friendly University. UWM is now one of 75 universities in 32 states, and one of four Wisconsin campuses, that have received the designation. The organization designated UWM a bronze-level Bicycle Friendly University, recognizing the university’s commitment to improving conditions for bicycling through investment in biking promotion, education programs, infrastructure and pro-bicycling policies.

“It’s cheaper than driving when you consider the cost of a nice bike and good outdoor gear compared to gas and parking expenses,” says Paul Auer, assistant professor at the Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health. Commuting by bike to the school’s downtown location takes 25 minutes, compared to 15-20 minutes by car, he says, so he considers it an efficient use of time. “Most importantly, I love riding my bike and being outside. Commuting is great exercise.”

“It gives me time to think and enjoy the outdoors,” says Sandra McLellan, professor in the School of Freshwater Sciences. Last year, she adds, 30 riders from the school took part in a national bike challenge and logged nearly 20,000 miles. “We hope to top that this year.”

“Biking to work is a trifecta of fitness, more money in my pocket, and freedom from the schedules of other forms of transportation,” says Helaine Hickson, communications and operations program manager for strategic planning and BP2W.  “Also, once you start biking to UWM, you start recognizing others from campus who do the same thing.”

Aside from the weather, there are challenges. Peter Armstrong, graduate student and Student Association senator-elect, finds keeping and storing a bike can be a problem, particularly for apartment dwellers.

“If we look at how society has provided miles upon miles and structures upon structures for automobile parking, we (as a society) have to also put forth the effort, time and investment in providing adequate parking spaces, places and facilities for those who bike.”