Reaping the benefits of cycling


By Rachel Chinchilla

There are many benefits to cycling around campus, and this fall season is the perfect time to appreciate them. 

The humidity of summer that causes many bike riders to show up to their destination sweaty and uncomfortable has dissipated. The weather is cooler now, and riding a bike is the perfect amount of exercise to increase your heartbeat and warm your body without causing the discomfort it may have caused just a couple months ago. 

The harsh cold and the snowiness of the winter that can lead to dangerous biking conditions have not reached us yet.

In these optimal conditions, biking makes for the best transportation. Even though our campus is large, most places one may need to get are within a few miles of the quad. 

But with so many bus routes available, many students opt to take the bus over driving a car or riding a bike around campus. Riding is quicker and warmer than walking, and the transportation fee is paid for in our tuition, so with the flash of an i-card you can take a bus anywhere for free.

However, sometimes the campus bus system can be difficult to master or inconvenient. 

As the fall weather gets colder, the buses become more crowded. I’ve recently been on buses where they can’t let any more students on, and those students are stuck waiting for the next bus or speed-walking to wherever they need to go. 

Riding a bike will never give you such a problem. You won’t likely get stranded somewhere, waiting for another method of transportation. And you won’t have to grasp onto a dirty bar that hundreds of other hands have touched as the bus bounces and turns, squishing you into those around you.

Additionally, the information necessary to navigate by bike is easier than bus navigation. When you search “bike map Champaign-Urbana” on Google, the first hit will lead you directly to a site that has a link to the 2015 Edition Champaign-Urbana Area Route Map. This map includes bike routes, bike-friendly roads, roads to bike on with caution, dangerous intersections and much more useful information for cyclists. The map has recently been updated for use during the 2015 year and provides anyone who wishes to bike around with an easy, clear and reliable system of navigation.

Another benefit is that bikes are simple machines, especially when compared to cars, buses and other modes of transportation. When you need to repair your bike, watching an online tutorial or reading a website usually provides enough information to allow you to repair the bike yourself.

The positioning of bike repair stations throughout the Champaign-Urbana area has added to this simplicity. The previously mentioned 2015 Edition Champaign-Urbana Area Route Map provides the location of six self-serving bike repair stations in the area. These stations are located not far from the center of campus, (the farthest one being about two miles northeast of the quad), conveniently close for student cyclists.

You may have walked past another on the main Quad, located behind Altgeld Hall. 

Last week when my bike tire went flat, I walked the short distance from Allen Hall to Altgeld Hall and was able to use the tools provided to install a new inner tube within ten minutes. This station includes multiple wrenches, tire levers, an air pump and other tools.

With these tools provided, cycling on campus becomes more viable and manageable. They give cyclists the opportunity to repair the most common bike problems they may encounter without having to find and purchase specific tools and without having to go to a mechanic.

An editorial published in September in The Daily Illini, titled “Cycling Through Shortcomings,” explained some of the current problems in the biking infrastructure on campus. But the University is working to fix these problems, further enforcing that now is the perfect time to start cycling. 

The Transportation Demand Management has finalized a Campus Bike Plan, which is a “master plan to direct our efforts for future bicycle infrastructure improvements and program development.”

According to its website, this plan will further promote the safety of all campus users, increase sustainability of campus transportation, improve campus bicycle facilities and services and “renew the University’s standing as a national leader in bicycle friendliness.” These changes will greatly improve cycling around campus, making it a more convenient, manageable and enjoyable experience.

When considering all the benefits, it’s clear to see that cycling around our campus is truly an enjoyable experience that will only get better with time.

Rachel is a junior in LAS. She can be reached at [email protected]