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UW-Madison recertified as platinum Bicycle Friendly University

October 26, 2023 By Lauren Hawley
A cyclist wearing a neon jacket and black pants bikes in light rain past a flowerbed and a red brick building

A cyclist bikes through the light rain outside Babcock Hall. Photo by Colton Mansavage

The University of Wisconsin–Madison has been recertified as one of only nine platinum-level Bicycle Friendly Universities in the nation by the League of American Bicyclists. Founded in 1880, the league is the oldest bicycle advocacy organization in the country.

In 2023, the Bicycle Friendly University (BFU) program includes 220 colleges and universities. The BFU program is part of the league’s Bicycle Friendly America program, which also recognizes communities and businesses which make biking more accessible through policy, education, and engineering improvements.  

According to the league, certified institutions address health and environmental challenges by creating welcoming, inclusive environments for people who bike.

“We are very proud that UW–Madison has maintained its platinum level,” says Patrick Kass, Assistant Vice Chancellor of UW Transportation Services. “We’re especially eager to continue our support for programs that make biking even more accessible, such as BCycle stations on campus and Traffic 101 courses.”

Designations are given in bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. Platinum level, according to the league, is currently the highest level given for across the board excellence. Platinum-certified schools have strong institutional-level cycling programs, active campus and local advocacy groups, and student clubs supporting cycling.

“This certification exemplifies our commitment to providing excellence in facilities and services for our university community,” said Cindy Torstveit, Associate Vice Chancellor Facilities Planning & Management at UW–Madison. “Having a strong biking infrastructure with robust resources has so many benefits for the university and our larger Madison community. It reduces traffic congestion, fosters a healthier and more connected campus community, and reduces the strain on parking space demand. I am so proud of our team’s efforts to continue expanding and improving this program.”

The Bicycle Friendly University program started in 2011. UW–Madison was recognized at the silver level in 2011, gold in 2015, and platinum in 2019. The upgrades came as the university improved accessibility in its bike networks and reached more students and staff with bicycle education programs.

“It is inspiring to see so many universities committing to the vision of a Bicycle Friendly America,” said Bill Nesper, executive director of the league. “These institutions, including UW–Madison, are leading by example and helping to set the standard for better bicycling.

The UW’s platinum re-certification was supported by program offerings and planned improvements in these areas, along with improvements made.

Equity, and Accessibility; Encouragement: Partnering with Madison BCycle and other campus groups to install eight more BCycle stations; partnering with No Limits Kids Fitness on a biking day for kids with disabilities to try adapted bikes.

Engineering: Adding 3,000 bike parking spaces, bringing the total number of bike parking spaces to 16,450 (outnumbering car parking spaces by more than 3,000); developing an annual pavement marking plan to make sure bicycle and pedestrian markings are clearly defined; retrofitting existing buildings with indoor bike parking.

Education: Making our bicycle educator a permanent, part-time staff member; offering League Cycling Instructor and Traffic 101 courses; teaching regular courses at the University Bicycle Resource Center.

Evaluation and Planning: Completing a study to extend Campus Drive Bike Path to Babcock Hall; preparing for a large-scale study of supply and demand of bike parking in spring 2024; designing two new buildings on campus with indoor bike parking.

Madison is consistently ranked as a top U.S. city for bicycling and has platinum-level Bicycle Friendly Community distinction.

As UW–Madison continues to improve its campus accessibility by bike, it will have access to a variety of free tools, a library of resources, and technical assistance from the league to become even more welcoming to people who bike.

To learn more about the free Bicycle Friendly University program, visit the League of American Bicyclists website.

To learn more about bicycling at UW–Madison, visit the Transportation Services website.