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New Bike Parking on Campus Thanks to HPERD Students

Written by Cheryl Dudley

MOSCOW, Idaho – When exercise science student Michelle Baker heard her professor say the first day of class that they would be working on sustainability projects this semester, all she could think of was “less paper.” She didn’t see how a class titled “Leadership, Pedagogy and Programming for Physical Activity” had anything to do with sustainability issues.

What Michelle didn’t know was that her professors, Grace Goc Karp, and Helen Brown had received a grant least year to make the University of Idaho curriculum more green. Under their leadership, the Department of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance developed the new core class, which Michelle was taking, around sustainability issues related to healthy active living.

The purpose of the class (HPERD 429) is to develop awareness and knowledge of sustainable healthy and active living on the University of Idaho campus through skills learned about leadership, pedagogy and programming. The class was divided into groups and each group chose a project related to physical activity, safety, infrastructure, food awareness and choice, or health issues.

“We were given the assignment to come up with something feasible within a short amount of time and try to work towards something that was an issue on campus,” said Michelle. Her six-member team decided there were some major issues with biking on campus, particularly a lack of parking spaces.

“We saw it as a problem with people parking their bikes on sidewalk railings, fire hydrants, and trees,” said team member Al Moreno. “Parking bikes on sidewalk railings is an issue for people with disabilities who may not be able to maneuver around the bikes.” Not only that, having a safe place to stow a bike during class could encourage more students to ride bikes to class.

The team, made up of exercise science and physical education students Caitie Pulver, Michelle Baker, Tyler Roberds, Cade Ritthaler, Brandon Artz and Al Moreno, knew they would need funds if they were going to get more bike racks on campus. So they began thinking about how to get a grant.

Eventually they contacted Becky Couch in Parking and Transportation, who was already working on a grant. She agreed to work with the students and be the main grant writer if they gathered the statistics she needed.

“We did a feasibility study,” said Caitie Pulver. “We talked with 281 students on campus about bike issues. We pretty much stopped people who were riding or parking their bikes and asked them questions,” she said. The consensus among bikers was that more bike racks were needed, especially around the Library, Commons and Renfrew.

“We talked with a few non-bikers, too” said Tyler Roberds, who also said that Parking and Transportation had considered ticketing bikers for not parking their bikes in a bike rack but had decided against it once they realized there just weren’t enough spaces.

After the students collected the data and submitted it to Couch, they were surprised to find out that they had received a $4,830 Sustainable Idaho Initiative grant.

“Everything just worked,” said Moreno. “It really helped to have someone like Becky in charge. If we had written the grant, we probably wouldn’t have been successful.”

“The HPERD students were great and very excited about the project,” said Couch. “The grant will provide for 23 bike racks. Fifteen will go just east of the Commons between the Commons and Art and Architecture, and eight will go just east of the College of Natural Resources on the line street. They will be installed around spring break, since bike ridership picks up after the break.”

“We didn’t expect our project to go this far,” said Caitie. “Parking your bike is like parking your car, and bikers are already taking on extra responsibilities. They need a safe place for their bikes.”

Parking and Transportation Services will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony near the new racks at the Commons in the spring. The student team will participate in the ribbon-cutting event by providing information and/or activities related to the health aspects of bike riding.

In addition to the bike rack project, other groups projects in the new HPERD core class include: 
    1) physical activity opportunities on campus
    2) increasing awareness of local outdoor activity opportunities
    3) pedestrian and bike safety
    4) food choices in the Commons, at Bobs, and in the Greek community
    5) coping with stress
    6) underage drinking

Each group conducted needs assessments collected data, set objectives that would increase awareness and knowledge on campus, developed and implemented presentations to stakeholders, create alternative formats for sending out their message, developed a written product to disseminate their information, and evaluated the process and product impact on themselves, their stakeholders and their community.

“The course is team taught with faculty across the sub-disciplines in HPERD,” said Goc Carp.

Helen Brown (Health), Tami Goetz (Recreation), Emma Grindley (Exercise Psychology) and Goc Karp (Physical Activity Pedagogy) are team-teaching the course, providing students with a more integrated community oriented perspective. “The assignments in the class are designed to help students collaborate together and make an impact on the community they inhabit,” said Goc Karp. “The goal is to improve the health and physical activity of University of Idaho students.”