Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Commons Campaign: Bike Lanes

Commons Campaign: Bike Lanes
Jonah Cavender, Alison McNichols & Valeriya Shulyak

The community within the University of Nebraska, Lincoln has specific areas in which can be improved, one that is clear to many is the absence of bike lanes on sidewalks, which creates many collisions and unnecessary traffic jams during the busiest parts of the day in certain areas of campus. We believe that proposing the idea of implementing bike lanes on sidewalks will not only fix a current problem at UNL, but will also establish a more efficient system for transportation guidance and direction.

The addition of bike lanes at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln will surely have a positive impact on campus life and efficiency for those needing to walk, bike or longboard from place to place. Our audience of the immense amount of students at UNL who have complained about this issue, whether it’s from a biker or walkers perspective will be the ones we target randomly for input on how we can better the sidewalk accessibility and efficiency at the University. Many people walking have commented saying that bikers have come close to hitting them or actually have, while many bikers say they can’t efficiently bike to class with the large crowds of people walking in their way. Through documentation of these statements in forms of surveys and interviews as well as letters to schools who have had success with bike lanes, a blueprint of campus along with the outline of where the lanes should be placed create a dynamic set of realistic goals that we will strive to attain throughout our commons campaign.
As we intervene with the issue of the absence of bike lanes on campus the main source of information that we will use will be from surveys and questionnaires. This approach is part of the creative aspect to our proposal because we will be using student input as well as input from other bike friendly universities and add their responses to our formal letter to the university. The feedback that we receive by the students is essential to our campaign because the students have the most important voice when it comes to issues on campus. Social media is also another creative aspect to our proposal because Twitter polls or Facebook surveys done by students will be our main source of getting feedback by the students on the situation at hand. A blueprint of where the bike lanes should be placed based on the surveys and polls students will take about the heaviest flow of traffic will be also be presented to the university as well. The addition of a blueprint will make it easier to translate to the university what the students want and where they believe the problem areas of traffic flow on the sidewalks on campus are. If the university does decide to implement the idea of bike lanes then we believe that our campaign will be memorable due to the fact that the project will forever change how the sidewalks operate by creating a new system of how the sidewalk works to be used by future generations of students to come. Traffic jams and close call run ins between bikers and walkers will no longer exist and students and faculty members of the university will be able to have more of an efficient walk as they go about campus.
This campaign requires many different steps in order to have the potential for success and therefore the division of labor as well as an action plan for when to accomplish specific goals at a timely manner are both important. Below is a detailed timeline of the division of labor:

  • Letter to University that already has bike lanes
    • Jonah
      • This is the first step to our project and with specific questions regarding the success certain schools have had with their bike lanes, we hope to get feedback to build our evidence of why UNL should as well.
  • Interviews with those at Universities with bike lanes
    • Jonah
      • Similar to the first step, this will be used as a questionnaire to add knowledge on the specifics required to add bike lanes to a college campus. Student input is vital in a campaign such as this, considering college students are the main audience being targeted.

  • Survey for people who walk while on campus
    • Val
      • After receiving input from those who have bike lanes at other Universities we will gain information through twitter polls, facebook surveys as well as other social media to determine what the problems around campus at UNL are when going from place to place.
  • Survey for people who bike/longboard while on campus
    • Val
      • Using the same technology and social media as in the surveys for the people who walk, we will gain information from people who bike or longboard to see their thoughts on how efficient it is to travel around campus currently versus the potential efficiency if bike lanes were added.
  • Creating a campus blueprint with designated areas for bike lanes
    • Alison
      • With an aerial view of campus we can see the sidewalks throughout that will be desired spots for bike lanes. The ability to go in depth with this blueprint can include showing where heavy traffic spots are and where many bikes seem to be located.
  • Forming an official letter to University of Nebraska-Lincoln Management
    • Alison
      • This step occurs after all the previous evidence is gathered and we can display the previous letters, interviews, surveys, and blueprint that convincingly express the need for bike lanes on this college campus.
  • Final Portfolio
    • Alison, Jonah & Val
      • Gathering the entire set of data we gather and putting it into a professional portfolio will be a full group activity that displays the equal division of labor and hard work put into the semester long commons campaign.

Project Overview: 
The Commons Campaign topic that we decided to take on was the issue of the absence of bike lanes on campus at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL). Traffic flow is seen as a frustrating problem for those who get to class by all forms of transportation. Constant awkward collisions and bikes having to swerve out of the way has created not only an inefficient way of getting to class, but somewhat unsafe as well.

The purpose of our campaign wasn’t to put the lane lines on the sidewalks, but create a reasonable argument/proposal that would spark the interest and desire for the University to do so. This process included multiple steps such as surveys, blueprints, letters as well as brief interviews. Through the proposal created at the start of the project, we divided the work load to maximize efficiency and achieve as much as we possibly could.

Jonah Cavender emailed multiple colleges as well as bike shops on campuses for the purpose of asking for advice on the school’s bike lane layout and how it was implemented. Unfortunately, none of the schools responded and although this was a minor setback, we adjusted by interviewing students at schools in Colorado and Arizona that have bike friendly campuses. Receiving input from students that have first-hand experience with proper traffic flow gave us a reason to begin the movement for asking the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to add a traffic system that is already widely accepted elsewhere.
This Email was sent to Temple, Stanford, CU-Boulder and the University of Texas in its own format. We chose these schools because they ranked well in bike-friendly campuses across the country. (

Alison McNichols found a blueprint of the entire campus here at UNL to use as an outline for where the bike lanes could potentially be placed. This outline shows where the actually product could take place and how it could help improve the campus. As it shows in the blueprint, near the Library and Union the sidewalks are much wider and therefore leaves room for a bike lane to be added to separate the pedestrians from the bikers and long boarders. Near areas such as the distance from 14th and Vine to Smith Hall the sidewalks are extremely narrow and are accompanied by a street (14th) and therefore the need for bike lanes are much lower since the street has one of its own.
The pink areas are sidewalks that have wide paths with room for the addition of bike lanes. The green areas with the bicycle logo are all areas that have bike racks on campus. 

Valeriya Shulyak created surveys to see the viewpoint of implementing bike lanes on campus. These surveys were posted not only on social media sites such as Twitter, but also through a website that sent the survey to people in class at UNL. This resulted in a large pool of survey participants that gave an idea of the percentage of people who would want bike lanes on campus as well as the transportation type to class that most people take. These surveys brought awareness to our commons campaign topic and gives credibility that it’s a clear problem that needs to be fixed.

According to our data, about 10% of people at UNL ride bikes to class

About 84% of people are either good or okay with bike lanes being added to campus at UNL while only a mere 15% don't want to see them on campus.

The twitter poll only got 30 votes, yet still a clear percentage of people prefer bike lanes on a college campus

Student Interviews:

Name: Adam Leash
School: Grand Canyon University – Phoenix, AZ
Year: Freshman
Phone # 720-480-9917
Transportation to class: Longboard or walk
 Name: Brandon Headrick
School: Colorado State University
Year: Freshman
Phone # 720-201-8951
Transportation to class: Bike
Name: Conner Lindholm
School: University of Colorado-Boulder
Year: Freshman
Phone # 720-413-2294
Transportation to class: Bike or walk

 How do bike lanes effect traffic flow on campus at your University?

Adam: “My school is a closed campus. We have sidewalks for bikes. There is not a lot of traffic flow because of this system.”

Brandon: “Bike lanes separate those walking from those who are biking so there aren’t any accidents and people walking don’t have to look out for bikers.”

Conner: “When I am walking to class in the parts of campus that don’t have bike lanes I always have weird ‘which way do I go’ encounters with bikers going the other way that lead to accidents or minor run-ins… That never happens when the bikers are in a different lane.”

Can you give a brief explanation of what the bike lane system looks like at your school?

Adam: “The bike lane system is pretty simple. We have sidewalks that are just for bikers and long-boarders and others that are just for people who are walking places.”

Brandon: “The bike system has two way lanes throughout campus along with lots of bike racks.”

Conner: “The sidewalks are divided with a big lane in the middle for people to walk each way and then two smaller lanes on the perimeters of the sidewalk that are left for bikers, each side designated a specific direction.”

Would you recommend bike lanes to other schools? If so, why?

Adam: “I would recommend this system to other schools because the streets are not over-populated. Traffic flow is efficient, as well as students are safe and happy.”

Brandon: “I would recommend it to other schools because biking to class is much faster than walking and it can be done safely.”

Conner: “I would definitely recommend bike lanes. There is a clear difference on my campus from the areas that have the lanes to the areas that don’t. I don’t have to worry about hitting someone or being hit when I am in the areas with the lane system.”

Once data was gathered through the letters, surveys, interviews and blueprints we formed a letter to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln that demonstrates the need for bike lanes and the desire the student body has for implementing them. The letter is shown below: 

To whom it may concern:
Through our Communications 250 course offered here at the University, we were assigned a Commons Campaign group project and asked to think of ways that could improve our community. An issue that all the members in our group and many of our fellow peers have noticed is the absence of bike lanes on the University sidewalks. There has been a problem of traffic flow between the walkers and bikers on the major sidewalks outside of Love Library and the Nebraska Union. We believe that bike lanes will fix the issue so all the students and faculty members can get around campus safer and more efficiently. Surveys were completed by students at the University and the feedback given was very positive in favor of bike lanes. Many students said the current sidewalk system was not efficient and that they would use the bike lanes if they were added to campus. We have also attached interviews that were given by students at other schools including Grand Canyon University, Colorado State University and the University of Colorado-Boulder, where bike lanes are already a part of campus. All the students who were interviewed recommended bike lanes on campus sidewalks and mentioned how they are for everyone. A blueprint of UNL campus is attached below that gives a rough outline in pink of potential bike lane locations. We highlighted the areas where there is the most foot traffic along with bike traffic. The sidewalks by Love Library and The Nebraska Union are also wider and because of this, adding bike lanes will not disrupt the pedestrians. The basis of our class assignment was to find an issue that students and faculty members are facing here on campus, and we believe that adding bike lanes will help the common good of everyone here on campus by making the campus safer and allowing everyone to get around more efficiently.

Jonah Cavender, Alison McNichols & Valeriya Shulyak

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