Skip to main content

‘Bicycle Friendly’ award puts college on path to better access

The League of American Bicyclists, the only grassroots advocacy organization for people who bike, has honored Pennsylvania College of Technology with a bronze-level award for promoting and enabling safe, accessible bicycling on campus.

The college, which submitted a 40-page application in support of “Bicycle Friendly University” consideration, joins an elite group of 208 institutions – 11 of them in Pennsylvania – that are taking action to address the nation’s health and environmental challenges by making their campuses more welcoming to cyclists.

Part of the successful community effort to have Pennsylvania College of Technology categorized as “Bicycle Friendly,” three college employees gather at the bike storage room and repair station outside Dauphin Hall. From left are D. Robert Cooley, associate professor of anthropology/environmental science; Anthony J. Pace, assistant dean of academic operations; and Chris E. Miller, Penn College Police chief and director of campus safety.
Part of the successful community effort to have Pennsylvania College of Technology categorized as “Bicycle Friendly,” three college employees gather at the bike storage room and repair station outside Dauphin Hall. From left are D. Robert Cooley, associate professor of anthropology/environmental science; Anthony J. Pace, assistant dean of academic operations; and Chris E. Miller, Penn College Police chief and director of campus safety.

The designation concedes that the college has room for improvement, but that notable steps have been made toward accommodating an above-average number of students and faculty riding bikes. Bronze-level campuses have measurable achievement in at least two of the league’s five “E” categories: Engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement and evaluation.

“This designation recognizes Penn College’s desire to provide a more healthy, sustainable and livable institution for students, staff and visitors,” said Anthony J. Pace, assistant dean of academic operations, who helped initiate the effort with Student Government Association leadership in his former position as director of student engagement. “And it provides an important road map to better access.”

Among the favorable factors considered to date are a bicycle repair station and bike storage room near the college’s Rose Street Commons residential area, bicycle racks outside buildings and on River Valley Transit buses serving students and employees, Welcome Weekend registration of students’ bicycles, the proximity of multiple bicycle merchants within pedaling distance, and a dedicated bike lane along part of West Third Street through campus.

“I think this designation is great for Penn College because lots of students live off campus in adjacent neighborhoods, and a great way to relieve parking issues on campus is to increase alternative options like biking,” noted faculty member D. Robert Cooley, a bicyclist who assisted in compiling the college’s application.

An associate professor of anthropology/environmental science, Cooley additionally acknowledged the health benefits that cycling represents.

"Bicycle Friendly University"“Connecting students to inexpensive outdoor recreation opportunities like cycling has been shown to be an effective means to enhance their physical and mental wellness,” he said, “and also helps them forge strong friendships and connections with their peers and their campus community as a whole.”

The packet of materials submitted by the college reflected that communitywide focus on safe bicycling, including support from the Lycoming County Planning Commission and Williamsport Bicycle Recycle (a nonprofit repair facility a few blocks northwest of main campus co-founded by David Stone, chair of the Williamsport Bicycle Committee), and long-term plans to extend the Susquehanna Riverwalk to more safely connect Penn College to established automobile-free trails.

“Our campus is currently working with city, county and state officials to further improve Bike-Ped accessibility to the adjacent Susquehanna Riverwalk and Bike Path, but also to expand the path fully along both the northern and eastern edges of our main campus,” President Davie Jane Gilmour wrote in support of the college’s comprehensive application. “This community resource is already one of our greatest tools for enrollment marketing, as an extension of campus life in our beautiful river valley (and, ultimately, to nearby rail-trail infrastructure).”

College students across America are driving less, and campuses such as Penn College – with densely defined boundaries within geographically compact municipalities like Williamsport – are ideal for bicycling as transportation and exercise.

In addition to bike racks on campus, Penn College offers secure storage near student housing.
In addition to bike racks on campus, Penn College offers secure storage near student housing.

“Beyond the obvious recreational and restorative values, these augmentations will give our campus community a safe, convenient and beautiful pathway to Williamsport’s downtown and its recreational assets,” Gilmour continued. “But they will also provide increased connectivity between Penn College and Lycoming College, and therefore greater access – for nearly 8,000 college students across Williamsport – to a broader variety of academic, co-curricular, athletic, arts and social programs on and around both campuses.”

The college’s bronze designation runs through 2023.

“More than 4 million students now attend Bicycle Friendly Universities in 47 states and Washington, D.C.,” said Amelia Neptune, the league’s Bicycle Friendly America director. “There is an increasing diversity of colleges and universities committed to creating campuses, from large to small, urban to rural, that enable and encourage people to use bicycles.”

As Penn College continues to improve its campus accessibility, it can rely on a variety of free tools, a library of resources and technical assistance from the league to become even more welcoming to people who bike.

For information about the college, a national leader in applied technology education, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.