Accomodations made to help alternative transportation on campus

Dana Miller

The Office of the University Architect implemented new signage on the Esplanade this past month to help students using alternative forms of transportation coexist.

Melanie Knowles, the manager of sustainability facilities planning and operations, said there has been a bike lane on the Esplanade since it was built. However, even though it’s there, it hasn’t been very noticeable.

“We kind of have known anecdotally that pedestrians and bicyclists sometimes get in each other’s way when on the Esplanade, so we want to make it useable for everyone,” Knowles said.

The idea was to come up with signs that would help the pedestrians, bicyclists and longboarders to coexist on the Esplanade.

“We worked with a designer who came up with the ‘walk on the left, ride on the side.’ It’s sort of by where the bike lane is. We thought it would be eye-catching and a little bit fun,” Knowles said.

In the past, Knowles said there were signs that had already been on the Esplanade when it was originally built, but they just blended in and people didn’t see them, so a new signage strategy was needed. 

“The reason we’re doing this now is it was just the next “well that didn’t work great, what else can we try,” and this was the next idea that we had,” Knowles said.

Along with the new signs, Knowles said there are more that have been ordered and will be put up this fall. The next phase is to add more decals on the ground and add signs to already existing signposts.

“For example, one of them we’re going to put by where there is a hill and it has a picture of a bike and it says, ‘tone your butt,’” Knowles said. “It’s supposed to be a little light-hearted.” 

For several years now, Kent has worked to become a more bicycle friendly university, said Kim Rufra, the senior associate director of recreational services. Not only are there new signs being added, but other accommodations as well for alternative transportation.

“Personally speaking and also speaking with the Rec Center, I know we’ve seen more skateboards or longboards in our building and we are looking for storage solutions for them,” Rufra said. “In some cases they won’t fit in a day locker, so we are looking to provide better secure storage for them in an appropriate space.”

Knowles said the campus added a lot of bike racks this summer and there are still even more to add.  

“It seems like as soon as we get them out they fill up, so that tells me that there is a lot of demand and we’re still working to meet that,” Knowles said.

Making alternative transportation options friendly for students is something Kent is striving to do so people can choose not to take a car all of the time, Knowles said.

“A longboard or a bike is a great way to do it. It’s healthy, it gives you exercise, its fun (and) it allows you to connect with other people,” Knowles said.

Lucas Hitchcock, a freshman construction management major, said someone who lives across the hall from him got him into longboarding. He didn’t have a longboard prior to coming to Kent.

“It’s fun, not just to go to class, but you can like ride around,” Hitchcock said. 

There are so many benefits to not always having to drive around campus, Knowles said.

“You’re saving gas, wear on your vehicle, if you don’t need to bring a car on campus you’re saving parking, the cost of a car, the cost of maintenance and insurance,” Knowles said.

Dana Miller is the safety and transportation reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].