At first glace, the vertical stretch of Lehigh’s campus doesn’t seem accommodating to bicycles. But with ongoing construction, traffic mayhem and parking issues across campus, some students and faculty members bike to get exercise and minimize their environmental impact.
Robert Booth, a professor of earth and environmental science, has biked to work since he was in college in the 1990s.
He said there are three main reasons that he chooses to bike. It reduces his carbon footprint, makes economic sense and is more convenient for him.
Booth lives in North Bethlehem and has a three-mile commute to campus.
He said by biking across the river he doesn’t have to worry about parking. He also said there are health benefits of biking.
“I used to bike just when the weather was good,” Booth said. “It was three years ago when I decided I should just embrace biking all the time.”
Since he made his decision to bike in any weather—regardless of its severity—he said his family only needs to use one car, which saves them money.
Ava Scally, ‘20, bought her bike on Craigslist last summer. She lives on Birkel Avenue, an easy commute to and from classes.
“The tough part is crossing intersections where there are supposed crosswalks,” Scally said.
Despite the busy intersections, she enjoys having a bike on campus.
George Yasko, the manager of STEPS, has been biking to work since 1988. At the time, he thought it would be a “novel thing to do,” but then he started biking more because he genuinely enjoyed the exercise.
Yasko said he finds additional benefits from biking.
“Biking is a stress-reliever for me,” he said. “I like being outside, (and) it’s a good way to avoid traffic and it’s good for the environment.”
Yasko, Booth and Scally acknowledge Lehigh’s mountainous terrain, as some students who live higher on the hill might not like the prospect of biking up.
However, Yasko and Scally said biking is still a better option than driving, and certain issues that may prevent students from utilizing alternative transportation methods can be solved.
“I’ve noticed some people have motorized skateboards,” Scally said. “I also know you can put your bike on the buses.”
Yasko encouraged students to take the challenge of biking around campus. He said if the issue is the length of time it takes to get around relative to that in a car, an easy solution is getting up slightly earlier for class.
Students can buy bikes online or at bike shops near campus.
“I just learned about a bike co-op that runs out of the North Side that teaches you to fix your bike,” Scally said.
This business, CAT Bicycle Cooperative, is a 10-minute drive from campus.
As more people take up biking, Yasko and Scally said there are other ways students and faculty at Lehigh can try to minimize their environmental impact.
“It would be really cool if there was an investment in infrastructure to have a more green way to get around campus and up to Iacocca Hall,” Yasko said.
Yasko encourages students to walk around campus more often.
“I would say, if you have a car, hold off on using it,” Scally said. “I know it’s tempting, but if you’re just going to class, just take the walk. It’s good for you and good for the environment.”