New master plan should include bike paths

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Touching up bike paths could give students a pocket- and environment-friendly way to get to school. Jake Buntjer / UVU Review

While some students, due to how far away they live, may not realistically be able to take a bike to school every day, those of us who live closer may find it in our benefit to do so.

Student Body President Richard Portwood said, “We don’t have the capability of building more parking… [Alternative modes of transportation] are essential to our development.”

With overcrowded parking lots, and our inability to expand parking, biking is a good alternative. If more people were to bike, perhaps the greatest concern most would have would be finding a spot on the bike rack closest to your classes.

Think biking may be too time-consuming? How long do you spend each day driving to school and getting a parking spot? How much do you spend on the gas it takes to get you to school and a parking pass each year? Have you tried getting yourself around in something other than a car?

Let’s do some math. Setting a realistic parameter, let’s consider a person within a three mile radius who drives to school each day. Unleaded gasoline in Orem is currently, on average, $2.82 a gallon. A midsized vehicle may get (on a high) 26 mpg. If that were to be a constant price, each year (not including any summer semesters), that student spends $106.42 on gas only to get to school. Add in the additional cost of an annual parking pass for $80 and that takes $186.42 out of a pocket a year. Multiply that by four years of college (and that’s if the student finishes that quickly), it comes to $745.68 – or two semesters of student fees.

If a student chose to ride a bike that same distance, the only cost would be the bicycle and its occasional tire repairs and replacements. Wal-Mart currently prices adult bikes from $75, which could be paid for with less than a tenth of the price of driving to school.

Aside from parking and fiscal benefits, slowing down and getting a little exercise can be helpful. Riding a bike gives you a better chance to come across outdoor activities and facilities you may not know about when you’re confined to the hallways and parking lots. Altogether, biking saves you money, gives you an opportunity to become more engaged on campus, and is the best alternative to fighting for a parking spot.

Therefore, UVU should seek to put more bike paths on campus. Ideally, standard six-foot-wide bike lanes on each side of the road would be installed instead of the current three- to four-feet wide shoulders.

With the recent approval of UVU’s new master plan to expand the campus and its roads, and UTA’s plan to extend TRAX to Orem, perhaps the installation of bike paths could further improve the campus and its safety in bicycle travel and accessibility. Like the University of Utah and BYU, we should give students an option to become less reliant on automotive travel, making the commute more affordable.

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