Biking on campus: Getting around campus on two wheels

Anna Hoffman

If the paper you are currently holding in your hands is not already proof enough, there are plenty of things to do in and around Kent. Whether on campus or downtown, you will no doubt want to check out all Kent has to offer. The question, then, is how to get to all of these places. The only place worse than trying to park downtown is trying to park on campus, and getting a parking ticket your first week of college would not be the right foot to start off on — nor would a $20 parking ticket fit in your now college-student budget. Instead of taking a bus to your car, driving downtown to pay to park, then driving back to take another bus, try the faster and cheaper option: a bike.

Biking has been shown to be good for the environment and good for your health, and for getting around a city or campus, it is by far the most logical option. With the headache of traffic around campus, biking tends to be both quicker and easier than trying to drive to your favorite coffee shop downtown. But before you hit the road on your bike, here are some tips on biking in Kent.

Where to get a bike

Step one to riding a bike is actually getting a bike.

Investing in a solid bike that will last you the next four years of college will require an initial investment, but you do not need to break your bank account to do so. If you are interested in buying a bike, there are plenty of bike shops near campus. 

Kent Cycle, Portage Cyclery and Eddy’s Bike Shop are all within either walking distance or on the bus line. All three stores offer a variety of bikes, used and new, and will help you find the right bike for your needs.

While you are there, do not forget all of the add-ons you will need for your bike: a helmet, a bike lock, and lights for your bike will all be necessary for a safe biking experience, so be sure to ask the professionals at these stores what else you might need for your bike.

If your bank account is still attempting to recover itself after your trip to the campus bookstore, the Student Recreation and Wellness Center (SRWC) offers free bike rentals through a program called Flash Fleet. Renting a Flash Fleet bike is just like renting a library book. Just bring your Flashcard with you to the SRWC to rent one of their bikes. They will also have helmets and bike locks available for you free of charge. Area desks also offer this service. 

Student Recreation and Wellness Center (330-672-4REC)

Kent Student Center (330-672-2554)

Ice Arena (330-672-RINK)

Stopher Hall Area Desk (330-672-3600)

Dunbar Hall Area Desk (330-672-3610)

Twin Towers Area Desk (330-672-3915)

Tri Towers Area Desk (330-672-3244)

Where to ride your bike 

As both a form of transportation and exercise, there are plenty of places for students to ride their bikes in and around Kent. With the “Lesplenade” wrapping through campus and around town, its bike lanes are a great place to start, especially if you are still getting used to your bike. Because the Lesplenade now connects campus to downtown, it is an easy ride to get to the shops and restaurants in the city.

Locking up your bike downtown should be no problem, with bike racks littered all across Main Street and Water Street. Often in fun shapes or adorned with “yarn bombs,” you should not have to look far for somewhere to lock up your bike.

If you are interested in using your bike more for exercise, going downtown means easy access to the Portage County Hike and Bike trail. The trail stretches through campus toward both Ravenna and Kent, and from this trail bikers can access other adjacent trails, such as the Summit County MetroParks or the Cuyahoga Valley Towpath trail. By using connecting trails, students could bike all the way to Akron or Cleveland. 

Safety tips

Just as if you were driving a car, riding a bike requires you to obey traffic laws and take safety precautions.

  • Bring friends — Biking is a great activity to do with your friends, and there can be safety in numbers, especially when riding on the trail. If a friend needs to rent a bike, they do not need to be a Kent State student to rent a bike from Flash Fleet for free. As a Kent State student, you will go with them to the SRWC and all they will need is a valid photo ID with proof that they are over the age of 18.
  • Tune-up — Before getting on the road or the trails, you should always be sure to check that your bike is in proper shape. Make sure you have enough air in the tires and that your brakes work properly. If you will be on a long bike ride, be sure to bring water or a snack with you for the road.
  • Obey the law — When driving on the road, you will need to know proper traffic laws. You should use turn signals, ride with traffic in the right-most lane and should never ride on sidewalks. If you would like to read more about bike laws in Ohio, refer to the Ohio Department of Transportation’s Cycling Smarter Guide.
  • Wear a helmet — Though a helmet is not required by law, helmets are always strongly encouraged and has been shown to reduce head injuries by as much as 85 percent. You have spent far too much on college tuition to get brain damage from a biking accident. Don’t be an idiot. Wear a helmet.
  • Have the proper equipment — Ohio law requires lights at night.
  • Avoid theft — Never leave your bike unattended, and be sure to lock it up in a bike storage room in your dorm or on a bike rackk

Anna Hoffman is a photographer and reporter for the Summer Kent Stater.