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Lees-McRae College Named a Gold Bicycle Friendly University by the League of American Bicyclists

The League of American Bicyclists, the premier grassroots advocacy organization encouraging better bicycling and protecting the rights of people who bike, has honored Lees-McRae College with a Gold-level Bicycle Friendly University award in recognition of the institution’s achievements in promoting and enabling safe, accessible bicycling on campus.

Lees-McRae, which has nearly 1,000 students, is the smallest educational institution in the US to receive the Gold-level designation. Lees-McRae is able to rank alongside larger institutions with more resources through dedication to campus accessibility and education about the benefits of cycling. The college’s commitment to cycling is evident not only in its endeavors to create a campus culture and infrastructure that promote biking, but in its Cycling Studies minor, the only academic program of its kind in the country, and its champion men’s and women’s cycling teams.

The college will also be dedicating the month of March to cycling. Bike Month will be a celebration of biking and the college’s status as a Bicycle Friendly University and will include events and activities to promote biking on campus. 

“It is so energizing to have Lees-McRae among our cohort of 212 Bicycle Friendly Universities across the country,” said Bill Nesper, executive director of the League of American Bicyclists. “The 2020 class of 38 Bicycle Friendly Universities, which includes Lees-McRae, has had to address a crisis unlike any we’ve seen in our lifetimes. Amidst the pandemic, we are grateful each of these institutions has acknowledged the benefits to the well-being and health of its students, staff, and faculty in being a Bicycle Friendly University. These colleges and universities are leading by building healthy environments where people can safely get around while improving the well-being of their community by enabling access to sustainable transportation options.” 

The Bicycle Friendly University program now includes 212 colleges and universities in 47 states and the District of Columbia, and is part of the League’s Bicycle Friendly America program, which also awards communities and businesses with certifications as part of its mission to create a Bicycle Friendly America for everyone.   

“The applications from colleges and universities in 2020 demonstrate the myriad challenges educational institutions have and are overcoming in order to serve the needs of their students and employees,” said the League’s Bicycle Friendly America Director, Amelia Neptune. “What’s clear is that bicycling is part of the solution many colleges and universities are using to better the campus life of their communities. The League is so proud of institutions like Lees-McRae for continuing this important work of building a Bicycle Friendly America for everyone at such a critical time for the health of our population and our planet.” 

Deana Acklin, Outdoor Programs and Campus Bicycle coordinator, said, “Our collaborative efforts are what afforded us this honor. Our mission moving forward as a Gold Bicycle Friendly Campus is to promote sustainability on campus and connection to the outdoors by growing the bicycle culture and making bikes easily accessible at Lees-McRae. We contribute to this culture by advancing our advocacy, improving our infrastructure, improving educational awareness for both people on bikes and drivers, and by providing a bicycle to any student who needs a bike for recreational activities or for commuting.”

Lees-McRae is currently taking further steps to increase bike friendliness on campus. Tate, Tennessee, and Virginia residence halls will each receive limited, secure indoor bike parking and outdoor racks for temporary parking. The next step will be to install an outdoor bicycle aid station and pump and campus safety signs.

The new advocacy group C.R.A.N.K Crew (community, riding, advocacy, nature, knowledge) is sponsoring multiple events in March to celebrate Bike Month on campus, including a “slow roll” with Lees-McRae students, faculty, and staff  and several bike skills clinics.

As Lees-McRae continues to improve its campus accessibility by bike, it will have access to a variety of free tools, a library of resources, and technical assistance from the League to become even more welcoming to people who bike.

To apply or learn more about the free BFU program, visit the League online at www.bikeleague.org/university.

For 141 years, the League of American Bicyclists has been leading the movement to create a Bicycle Friendly America for everyone. Its commitment is to listen and learn, define standards and share best practices to engage diverse communities and build a powerful, unified voice for change. Learn more at bikeleague.org.