Geography students hosting Bike to Work Day ride

What would it take to get more individuals to ride their bikes? Students are preparing to share their ideas with the campus community on Bike to Work Day, May 8.

Students in the Bicycle Geographies pilot course, created by Professor of Geography & Environment Jason Henderson, examine the resources for and obstacles to commuting to campus by bike.

Photo of the sign for SF State’s bicycle parking garage, the Bike Barn.

Professor Jason Henderson’s Bicycle Geographies students will lead a Bike to Work Day ride around campus, taking off from the Bike Barn at 9:30 a.m. on May 8.

"Just 4 percent of commuter trips to SF State are by bicycle. We’re looking at what it would take to increase that to 20 percent, or around 6,000 students," said Henderson.

Funded by the Campus as a Living Lab Grant Program, the course features guest lecturers from the San Francisco County Transportation Authority and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, exposing students to the cycling and the city-planning perspective.

Students meet outside class to evaluate bike paths and roads near SF State, tracking obstacles along the way and timing their rides with a GoPro camera. A class set of bicycles from the San Francisco-based brand PUBLIC was furnished by the CSU’s grant.

High-speed traffic and an unprotected bike lane make 19th Avenue, also known as State Route 1, dangerous for cyclists. While both the Daly City and Balboa Park BART stations are less than 2 miles from campus, the roadways between pose significant hurdles. Infrastructure issues include blind intersections, steep slopes and poorly paved surfaces.

On May 8, in honor of Bike to Work Day, Henderson’s students will lead a 9:30 a.m. ride around the campus perimeter to share what they have learned. Community members, students, faculty and staff are welcome. President Leslie Wong and his wife, Phyllis, will be in attendance. 

"In the San Francisco Bay Area, 65 to 70 percent of all trips are less than five minutes," said Henderson. "Cycling is well suited for short-range trips and has enormous potential to reduce traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions."

For their final project, student groups will report on ways to improve routes to campus and on-campus infrastructure, as well as raise student awareness of green transportation options.

The Bicycle Geographies course will continue to foster innovation from student cyclists next spring. 

-- Gianna Devoto