December 4, 2020

Students switch from driving to riding

MAX BOUVATTE / THE JOURNAL

 

Senior directing major Rachel Roberts is enjoying the last few weeks of warm weather as she rides her bike two miles everyday to school. At the beginning of this school year, Roberts began commuting to campus from her apartment in Georgetown.
“I definitely prefer riding my bike,” Roberts said. “I don’t have to worry about parking anymore, which at Webster is always bad. Sometimes I think it’s faster to ride bikes because I don’t have to factor in parking. It’s more relaxing and cheaper.”
Roberts began riding her bike five months ago when her ex-boyfriend, who owns a bike shop, introduced her to the biking community in St. Louis. Roberts said she likes to ride her bike anywhere within five miles of where she lives, otherwise she would feel lazy.
Other Webster students have joined Roberts this year. An increased number of registered bikes on campus has caused Public Safety to review the need for more bike racks.  This year 69 bikes are registered with Public Safety, which is significantly more than the 37 registered in the 2010-11 school year.
“No one has really complained about it, which indicates they’re parking their bikes and leaving them,” Tracy Winka, manager of Public Safety said. “We’re going to have to do something about that.”
Winka said bike racks are often full because resident students leave their bikes overnight and for long periods of time. Freshman film production major CJ Mertzlufft, who lives in Maria Hall, said he’s never had a problem finding a place to park his bike along the cramped bike rack behind Webster Hall.
“There’s always at least one place to park, and no one really uses the ends of the rack or the opposite side,” Mertzlufft said. “Some people will chain their bikes to the benches if they are worried their bike will get scratched.”
Winka said more people have been chaining their bikes to handrails and street signs. When this happens, Public Safety will put a sticker on the bikes telling the owner to chain their bike to a secure bike rack instead.
Mertzlufft works at Subway off Big Bend and Old Orchard. He rides his bike around campus and to work. Because he has a meal plan, he said he doesn’t feel the need to go anywhere farther than where his bike can get him. He chooses bikes over cars because they make him feel safer.
“I enjoy having the opportunity to choose between having a car and having a bike,” Mertzlufft said. “Bikes make me feel more safe and comfortable.”
Modern European and World History professor Warren Rosenblum frequently rode his bike last year, when he was on sabbatical in Cambridge, Mass. While in Cambridge, Rosenblum said he rode to and from his office and to both of his children’s schools every day, and to other places like the grocery store.
Since coming to Webster in 2000,     Rosenblum has been riding his bike to work up to two times a week, with more rides in the summer. He takes his bike on the Metrolink to Sunnen Station, and rides the last two miles to campus. He said he enjoys the fresh air and feeling close to the environment. Even with St. Louis’ unpredictable weather, Rosenblum said he has never regretted a day he’s ridden his bike to campus.
Rosenblum thinks the Webster campus is reasonably bike-friendly, but with more registered bikes this year, more can be done.
“The best step forward would be if we could have individual lockers at the student center,” Rosenblum said via email. “So one could shower and change after coming to campus drenched in sweat.”
With resources like the Metrolink and buses, Rosenblum thinks even more students should utilize bicycles to commute to and from school.
“I think it’s insane the amount of time students spend in their cars,” Rosenblum said. “They’re wasting the best years of their lives trapped in a plastic box. It’s physically, mentally, spiritually poisonous.”
Registering bicycles with Public Safety is a free precaution. If an unregistered bike is abandoned on campus, Public Safety will remove the bike so as not to take up space on the limited bike racks.
Public Safety is still in early stages of deciding whether or not to order more bike racks, but Winka said they are looking to order more to make up for the congested racks behind Webster Hall.

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