Coming to campus: bike-friendly changes

May 20, 2024

To support sustainability efforts and promote bike safety, sharrows and new signage will appear this summer.

bike routes on campus
Bikers travel paths to and from campus. Photo/Grace Maves

Nearly all of the UM-Dearborn community is committed to sustainability efforts and energy conservation, according to a U-M Sustainable Cultural Indicators Program survey. In the same report, respondents indicated that they knew very little about alternative transportation modes like biking. So UM-Dearborn’s Bikeable Campus Task Force looked into ways to support biking across UM-Dearborn to help bridge these two areas. “People indicated in the survey, which was from 2021, that they want to support environmental sustainability. We want to help them. But it's important to note that sustainability considers more than just the environment — it connects to human health, mental wellness and safety,” said Sustainability Programs Coordinator Grace Maves, who led the task force.

Campus bike-related changes coming this summer include:

  • Wayfinding signage and safety reminders will be placed on multi-use pathways and roadways that the task force identified as the safest campus bike routes
  • Sharrows, which help riders with wayfinding and safe positioning on roads, will be placed on areas of Fair Lane Drive and Monteith Boulevard to indicate shared roads
  • Bike racks will be redistributed to better serve often-used gathering spaces and stops along the recommended bike routes. For example, bike racks will be placed in the Chancellor’s Pond area.

The task force also made recommendations for the future, including adding a designated bike lane crossing through campus and along the campus portion of the Rouge River Gateway Trail.“Our leadership is committed to being a bike-friendly campus, and that kind of support is what makes sustainability achievable,” Maves says. “Yes, we are a commuter campus. But there are still ways to utilize alternative transportation methods, and make those modes accessible and safe. We want to create changes that support our campus’ needs.” She said a new survey will be sent to the UM-Dearborn community in fall 2024 to track changes in ridership and campus sustainability culture.

Maves hopes these changes will boost ridership on campus, better support the bike-riding events on campus, like the Chancellor’s Town and Gown bike ride and walk, and add safety features for the riders who currently bike to and from campus for classes and work.

map of safe bike routes on campus
Bike routes map

Human Resources Coordinator Jessica Calderón, who is also a student, said she is looking forward to seeing these changes on campus. To save money, reduce the carbon footprint and exercise, Calderón occasionally bikes to campus.

Coming from Oakwood Boulevard near Southfield, it takes Calderón nearly an hour on the days she’s commuted on her bright blue Aggressor Pro GT.  She said she is thankful for the opportunity to ride — attending the Chancellor’s Town and Gown annual bike ride in the fall showed her how to navigate the city and end up on campus — and appreciates the work the task force has done to continue the biking education and momentum on campus.

“Sometimes you feel planted in your seat while in class or at work. It feels good to get up and explore our beautiful campus,” she says. “There’s shade from the trees. It’s scenic. And the people are friendly. It’s another great neighborhood to ride my bike in. I appreciate the efforts leadership is making to be more bike friendly. These safety routes will benefit faculty, staff and our students. Some people in our community don’t have the funds set aside for a vehicle — but they do have a bike.”

In addition to helping mobility, Maves says the changes this summer are a step in the right direction to reduce UM-Dearborn’s Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions — which include actions like business travel and commuting — and support a culture of sustainability.

“If there is not a demand, changes often don’t happen. I’m glad the UM-Dearborn community shared that they wanted to be involved in sustainable efforts — that helped move this forward,” Maves says. “Our goal is to create a culture of sustainability on campus, and if individuals continue to express interest, more initiatives like the Bikeable Campus Project will come out of that. As a starting point, I encourage everyone to become Planet Blue Ambassadors, to build a foundation for taking action on campus and beyond.”

Story by Sarah Tuxbury. UM-Dearborn’s Bikeable Campus Task Force members include Landscape and Grounds Manager Steve Bernard, Lead Business Officer for Business Affairs Marc Brigolin, Police Sergeant Kaitlin Deslatte, Executive Director for Facilities Carol Glick, Maves, Police Officer Marty Morales General Services Manager Bonnie Southerland and Bike Dearborn founder Tracy Besek.