Thursday January 14, 2016
The League of American Bicyclists recognized Champlain College recently with a Silver Bicycle Friendly University (BFU) award, joining more than 100 colleges and universities from across the country to earn the bike-friendly campus designation.
“We are now part of an elite group of only 45 institutions in the country that are designated a top level Silver, Gold or Platinum BFU and only the second campus to be awarded in Vermont,” according to Nic Anderson, Champlain’s sustainable transportation coordinator.
A native New Zealander and a resident of South Burlington, Anderson recently celebrated his first year anniversary with Champlain. His role as sustainable transportation coordinator oversees all transportation programs and infrastructure for students, employees, and visitors alike. He cites the college as, “An awesome community of people who are passionate about what they do,” as well as noting their “culture of innovation and action.” Moreover, Anderson is an ardent proponent of cycling and its many benefits, which he says includes alleviating the pressures of parking in an urban setting as well as improving health and wellbeing.
Excited by the college’s cycling program, Anderson describes some of its key components, “Champlain has a fleet of bikes, called ChampRides, available for free use by any employee or student, kind of like a bike library where you can check one out for four hours at a time. We have an on campus self service mechanic workshop, an outdoor fixit station with pump, plenty of bike parking (including a rainbow colored rack to highlight LGBTQ diversity on campus) and many other programs to promote and support bikes.”
Previous to his role at Champlain College, Anderson worked for the City of Burlington in their planning and zoning office. There, he helped launch a bikeshare program for city employees. In addition, Anderson volunteers for Local Motion, a nonprofit organization promoting people-powered transportation, as well as helping to organize bike-centric events such as the Annual Halloween Bike Ride and Cycle the City.
A lifelong cyclist, all of this cycling enthusiasm is in Anderson’s blood. He says, “I have not had a period in my life when I didn’t own a bicycle and use it frequently.” Anderson even remembers his first bike, “I was five years old and it was a Mongoose BMX, chrome and indestructible.”
A resident of the Chamberlin neighborhood, Anderson can be seen cycling to work year-round. He says his mission is to help show, “It really is not that difficult to bike in the winter too.” He adds,” It is all about perception and outlook. Last winter there was only three days I did not ride my bike to work. With seven years of taking the same route, I feel I know Williston Road pretty well and dream every day of the changes that would make it a road for all users, not just automobiles.”
Anderson notes that Champlain College is fortunate to be supported by the Chittenden Area Transportation Management Association (CATMA) and he encourages local businesses to inquire about joining their network. CATMA is a non-profit, membership based, transportation management association serving Chittenden County. Their mission is to “jointly plan and manage safe, convenient, and economical parking and transportation in ways that better coordinate land use and reduce environmental impacts.”
Anderson says, “The most simple thing that businesses, schools, and the community can do is to install quality bike parking racks.” He notes that South Burlington has many sub-standard racks, which he says do little to encourage bicycling. In addition, Anderson is an advocate for getting more kids on bikes.” I feel the key for South Burlington is to strengthen ‘Safe Routes to Schools’ and provide incentives for kids (and their parents) to bike to school. Champlain College offers gift cards to employees who consistently bike to work, an idea which could easily transfer to schools which could encourage biking through a small rewards program, which doesn’t have to cost that much but can be the tipping point.” He would like to see an end to the “driving kids to school,” mentality and instead “embrace the social and health benefits to the kids, parents, and the entire community.”
When not on the bike, Anderson says he enjoys snowboarding and rock climbing, a sport he can enjoy at home as well on his own backyard-climbing wall. He and his wife have two young children, a three-year-old girl and a five-year-old boy. And yes, they all join him on bike rides. As Anderson sees it, “Biking has limitless benefits, but I most appreciate the freedom to go wherever you want and the true sense of community that comes with it.”