Thanks in part to two gifts from alumni, the Blue Devil Revolution Bike Program is gaining traction at Lawrence Technological University. The bike racks in front of dorms, academic buildings and Ridler Field House have started to fill up as students find that they can speed up their daily routines without using an automobile.
It’s a trend that architecture student Scott Hill believes is gaining momentum. “If you live nearby, we hope you take a bike instead of a car to get to campus,” said Hill, who is the part-time student assistant for the bike program. “It’s better for you and better for the environment.”
The big change this year is the addition of six Schwinn S-1 Cruisers – single-speed bicycles well suited for getting around campus – which were the commencement gift of the Class of 2013. Students can rent a bike for a day at no charge by filling out a short form at Ridler Field House. On some days all the bikes are signed out.
Student Recreation previously offered several Diamondback mountain bikes for student use, and one of Hill’s responsibilities is to do the necessary maintenance to keep three or four of these older bikes in service.
There have been organized bike tours of the campus and bike-to-work days. “A lot more people are taking an interest in what we are doing,” Hill said.
Hill hopes LTU can qualify in two or three years for the designation as a Bicycle Friendly University from the League of American Bicyclists. The application has dozens of requirements starting with the physical infrastructure and hardware to support cycling and including programs that provide education, encouragement, enforcement and evaluation.
Hill’s salary for 10-15 hours a week is covered by a grant from LTU alumnusMike Darga and his family. The grant also calls for a non-motorized campus master plan by studio[Ci] in the College of Architecture and Design under the direction of Associate Professor Constance Bodurow.
Darga is a regular participant in the Tour de Troit, an annual event that gives bicycle enthusiasts a rare opportunity to “take over” the streets and explore many of Detroit’s historic areas and iconic landmarks. This year’s event in September drew 6,000 riders.
Darga became involved in Tour de Troit through Giffels Webster, an engineering and planning firm headquartered in downtown Detroit. Darga is a senior project manager at the firm, specializing in municipal and non-motorized transportation and urban infrastructure.
At his second Tour de Troit, Darga bumped into Lawrence Tech student cyclists led by Bodurow, who serves as faculty adviser to the LTU Bike Crew that has developed the mountain bike trails at the Point. This encounter ultimately led to the birth of the LTU Blue Devil Revolution.
“When I attended Lawrence Tech, it was almost entirely a commuter campus,” Darga said. “At that time, there wasn’t always a lot of time for the social experience between classes and work. With the transitioning to more of a residential campus community, there is a need and opportunity for students to travel by methods other than just car.”
Connecting the Lawrence Tech campus to the larger community is another reason for Darga’s interest in the project, and he is encouraged that the City of Southfield recognizes the need to link its central city core to campus through non-motorized transportation.