A new campus Bike Truck serves as part of city and campus plans to become more bike-friendly.
A new truck on 13th Street between Berks and Norris streets sells goodies, but food is not on the menu.
The Bike Truck, which is open this semester on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, is the precursor to a larger, more inclusive program in partnership with Neighborhood Bike Works that will allow for members of the Temple community to repair and build their own bikes. The program is part of an effort to make Temple a more bike-friendly campus by offering more bike parking options and services including repairs, tune-ups and accessories at discounted prices to students, faculty and staff.
Senior marketing major Jay Gurcsik said making Temple a more bike-friendly campus is crucial.
“I worked with the Bike Committee of the Office of Sustainability for weeks to get more bike racks,” he said, “and showering facilities on campus before we came up with the idea to put in a bike truck.”
Gurcsik is president of Temple’s Cycling Club as well as an employee of Breakaway Bikes, the Center City business responsible for the mobile bike truck. Bike Temple, Breakaway Bikes and the city of Philadelphia are working together to bring a number of green-oriented visions to fruition.
“Temple is trying to eliminate the number of cars on campus, so that we can become carbon neutral, and this is just one step,” Gurcsik said.
The Bike Truck is part of President Ann Weaver Hart’s commitment to reduce Temple’s carbon footprint. The Office of Sustainability opened its doors shortly after Hart’s tenure began, and a subcommittee of the office has been charged with the task of making Temple a more bike-friendly campus.
“The truck is part of a program called Bike Temple,” Rob Gage, chair of the new bicycle subcommittee, said. “Having Breakaway here to sell Fuji bikes and other biking accessories at a discount will really help those students and faculty who don’t know where to begin.”
Bike Temple is part of Fuji University, a project by Fuji Bicycles that first started at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga. Temple is the second university to get involved in the program.
“Unlike Emory’s program, our truck site is semi-permanent,” said Gage, adding that the truck doesn’t leave campus.
Other recommendations from Gage’s bike subcommittee require Temple to install more bike racks. Senior film and media arts major Rachael Kane thinks more racks are much needed.
“There is an absurd amount of bikes on the racks,” Kane said, as she struggled to find a free slot for her bike on her way into the TECH Center, where she works. “If you have a mid-day class, I can almost guarantee that you need to find a different spot to lock it up.”
When racks are not available, students often secure their bikes to rails, gates or street signs.
Teaming with the City
A 2008 Main Campus bicycle survey found that there are roughly 450 designated bike parking spaces on campus. However, the number of bikes found on campus is many more than that number on nearly any day of the year. Thus, the bike subcommittee recommended a 50 percent increase of bike spaces on Main Campus and Temple’s Center City campus.
The idea is that as Temple becomes more bike-friendly, more people will be encouraged to ride their bikes because they have a haven for the safe keep of their bike. The Main Campus truck, open Tuesdays and Wednesdays, also offers a place to get repairs if commuters run into any difficulties.
Bike Temple’s ambitious agenda stretches beyond campus boundaries, as the committee partners with the city to get a city-wide bike-share program off the ground, along with more bike lanes painted on the streets to make travel to and from campus safer.
“Instead of having bikers play leap frog with the buses, which can get kind of funky,” Gage said, “we are looking at establishing routes on more north [and] south streets. But it will probably be a two- to three-year project.”
“The Temple bike program and the [bike-share] concept are great,” said Andrew Stover, director of strategic initiatives for the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities.
There has been some concern about whether the city’s partnership with Temple on these projects would be put on hold because of budget cuts, but Stover said the Mayor’s Office is not looking to reduce or stop the stripping of bike-lane plans that are already underway.
The League of American Bicyclists presented Philadelphia with the Bicycle Friendly Community Award at the Bronze Level in June. The city is already armed with 200 miles of bike lanes and has plans to paint more.
Quentin Williams can be reached at email@example.com.