Campus Rec wins Bike Commute Challenge

Portland State’s Campus Recreation took first place for the second year in a row in the Bicycle Transportation Alliances’ annual Bike Commute Challenge.

Portland State’s Campus Recreation took first place for the second year in a row in the Bicycle Transportation Alliances’ annual Bike Commute Challenge.

The Bicycle Transportation Alliance [BTA] is working to translate the positive message of biking to communities. Its Bike Commute Challenge, which takes place every September, aims to get people to ride their bikes while commuting to work. This year the BTA reported 2,017 riders, 650 teams and 74,447 miles logged. Individuals log their miles, and the BTA determines the winners by calculating the percentage of miles the agency commuted by bike, not necessarily the total miles logged. This allowed the Campus Rec staff to compete in a division of 25 to 99 people.

Kjerstin Brinton is new to the Bike Commute Challenge, and as student coordinator of Campus Rec she was an integral part of the team this year.

“I was really excited. I wanted to be able to live up to what Campus Rec did last year, and am happy we did,” Brinton said.

Brinton and team leader Todd Bauch, who is also director of operations, helped the team accomplish its goals. For him, the excitement was more about the journey than the results.

“It’s interesting, the dynamic that forms within the department—you find a way to create something that includes everybody,” Bauch said.

Bauch, who commutes from northeast Portland, knows the importance of building team spirit and including everyone.

“One day I bought coffee, we [all] shared equipment [and] when it rained we lent fenders,” Bauch said. “Last year people had extra bikes so we were able to loan them out to get people involved.”

The Campus Rec team, which consisted of professionals, student managers and graduate assistants, competed with programs from all across the state. Notable cities included agencies in Ashland, Baker City, Corvallis and even Senator Rob Wyden in Washington. With 34 members and seven new riders, Campus Rec was able to win its division with a 40 percent commute rate.

“It’s cool to be able to take what we value and put it into a friendly competition,” Bauch said.

The BTA’s mission statement is to create healthy sustainable communities, which falls in line with Campus Rec’s values of enhancing engagement within PSU and the city by building healthy and supportive communities. It seeks to promote the link between recreation and sustainability.

The attitude of sustainability is really what the Bike Commute Challenge is all about. The BTA estimates that over 80,000 pounds of carbon dioxide has been saved from the air by its active riders.

The project also hopes to encourage people to take their bike to the MAX instead of driving. Bauch takes the MAX to the Goose Hollow stop, and then pedals up the hill to campus.

The competition is valuable in getting people out of their normal routines and into something more sustainable.

“It gets someone to ride their bike that normally wouldn’t,” Brinton said.

Helping the environment is just one of the many positives about commuting by bike; healthy living is another example.

“It allows us to exercise, and in the good days of September it’s easy. It’s the days in January when you come in [to work] soaking wet, cold and miserable that you have to contend with,” Bauch said.

Bauch and Campus Rec are looking to get more people involved in next year’s BTA challenge. They expect to move into a different category of people participating.

Campus Rec is also working with a web designer to create a tally board of figuring out how everyone gets to work. This type of implementation can help everyone get a better sense of how to maximize sustainability. Its new involvement is Walktober, which is free to all students. Essentially, Walktober is the walking equivalent of the Bike Commute Challenge. ?