PTS founds bicycle committee to benefit cycling community

Zach Lyons

With scores of bikes crossing campus everyday, Parking and Transportation Services is working to create a council that will help represent UT’s cycling community.

Starting with an introductory meeting last month, Jeremy Hernandez, bicycle coordinator for PTS, is pulling together members of student cycling organizations, Student Government representatives and others to gain insight into the matters that are important to students who rely on their bikes.

“The purpose of the group is to promote cycling in general and to get different people’s opinions on how we can make things better,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez said he looks forward to hearing people’s voices, even if they are airing a complaint.

“When someone is frustrated about something like a bike rack, for example, it’s great that someone actually wants to spend the time to call me and say, ‘Hey, I’d like to voice my opinion, trying to help with this situation,’” Hernandez said. “If I don’t hear any opinions, it doesn’t help me.”

In addition to community feedback, the committee will be leveraging data to inform their actions. Zack Lofton, an urban planning graduate student, said he’s using his research as part of the School of Architecture to benefit the committee. By studying large datasets on commuting, he wants to help find statistically viable ways to convince more students to cycle.

“Rather than me talking about what I think would benefit cycling, I can say, ‘After 150 responses to this question, 80 percent of them are like this,’” Lofton said. “I think that lends more credibility because it allows me to speak from a broader audience.”

Advertising junior Alex Roper said he thinks more communication about the benefits of cycling could sway other students to choose biking over other modes
of transportation.

“There are a lot of people living in West Campus who could probably ride their bikes to class and get there in five minutes,” Roper said. “Maybe they don’t realize how quick it would be.”

Roper said he thinks cyclists are well represented on campus, but there’s always room for improvement.

“I think that there could be more [bike racks]; I often find it hard for me to park my bike,” Roper said. “Especially by the PCL,  it’s difficult.”

Hernandez said the committee’s work has just begun, and he’s looking forward to what lies ahead. 

“It’s not necessarily creating a master bike plan, but it’s leaning towards finding out what we can make better as a group,” Hernandez said.