ASU: bicycle friendly university.. No duh! But, what about those walk only zones?

Behind a plot of shrubs and bushes, Arizona State University proudly displays this plaque, designating the school as a bicycle friendly university.

Nestled behind a carefully manicured, meticulously groomed plot of bushes and shrubs lay a plaque. Not a small plaque. Not a large plaque per say, but a plaque that commands attention still, resting bodly on a metal fence on Taylor Mall, a central pathway and gathering place on Arizona State University’s downtown Phoenix campus.

The plaque celebrates ASU’s distinction as a bicycle friendly university as granted by the League of American Bicyclists. The plaque’s designers just had to mention that the league has been around since 1880. Imagining people riding bicycles in 1880 is quite the intriguing thought. I’d imagine that the women might’ve struggled to keep their long skirts from grazing the ground as they rode and the menfolks, oh the menfolks. Perhaps they raced one another from town to town after drinks at the local pub. But, that’s besides the point.

The point is, it makes sense that ASU would be considered a bicycle friendly campus. It is located in an Arizona valley. Flat as can be. I would hope that bicycles would be able to weave their way through the flat, concrete-jungle-like landscape unbothered.

While being bicycle-friendly seems like a no-brainer to me, earning the distinction took some effort on the University’s part. Universities are evaluated on their efforts to promote bicycling in five major areas, according to the League of American Bicyclist’s website. Those areas are engineering, encouragement, education, enforcement and evaluation. (They call them the five E’s). More than 160 colleges and universities across the nation have earned the distinction. (Yes, the University of Arizona was on the list as well but that’s okay, ASU is CLEARLY the real MVP here).

Now, get this. ASU has a variety of bicycle-friendly programs for its students and employees. Take bike parking, for example. The university went beyond just installing bike racks throughout the campus. ASU offers free bike valet stations. That’s right, a bike valet. Gone are the days when the only time a college student would feel comfortable rolling up to a valet is when they were taking the person of their dreams on a date in their father’s sports car. No no no. Now, you can expereince the luxury of having someone else take care of and watch over you’re bicycle while you’re in class on your very own college campus!

Students and employees can also register their bike, and ride with ease on designated bike routes, according to the Arizona State University website.

However, bicyclists on campus may not always have a smooth ride. If a bicyclist rides through a designated “walk only” zone, he or she may have to answer to the infamous walk only zone enforcement officers. (ASU’s Tempe campus is the only campus with walk only zones because of the larger student population). These individuals wear brightly colored yellow vests and hand out written warnings to students who don’t walk in the walk only zones.

On second offense, you may be mandated an ASU police bicycle safety test, according to a State Press article on walk-only zones.

So cheers to ASU for being sustainable and promoting safe bicycling on it’s campuses. And to all you bicyclists, if you see an individual in a yellow vest, bike the other way.