- Department of Parking, Transportation, and Services
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Last fall, when Pitt first-year students and resident assistants received free 30-minute bike rides through a first-of-its-kind partnership between Pitt’s Office of Sustainability and Pittsburgh bike share program Healthy Ride, others on campus asked when the benefit might be extended to them.
This academic year, with added support from Pitt’s Office of Parking, Transportation and Services and a grant from Pepsi, all students and employees on the Pittsburgh campus will have access to the benefit of free 30-minute rides on Healthy Ride’s system.
“Helping the Pitt community choose low-carbon, active and shared mobility options is a priority as the University moves toward dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions from commuter travel and direct transportation,” said Aurora Sharrard, Pitt's director of sustainability.
Healthy Ride, owned and operated by Pittsburgh Bike Share, has 100 stations and 550 bikes across over 24 different neighborhoods, including 17 stations around the Pittsburgh campus. It marked record ridership in 2019 and anticipates an additional increase as a result of the Pitt program expansion.
While the main goal of the Healthy Ride partnership is to promote sustainable, active transportation, the perk is proving particularly timely amid the COVID-19 pandemic as an additional option for physically distanced commuting.
"Perhaps now more than ever people need access to safe, affordable transportation options and we're excited to connect the Pitt community to the bike share program,” said David White, executive director of Pittsburgh Bike Share. “Pitt is sending a strong message that short trips on bicycles are a perfect tool for mobility in Pittsburgh. There are a lot of places you can access within a 30-minute bike ride from Oakland, accomplishing all different kinds of trips.”
Said Kevin Sheehy, Pitt’s assistant vice chancellor for auxiliary operations and finance, “Interest in alternative modes of transportation is rising exponentially. People are looking for mobility options that are easy, accessible, safe, sustainable and healthy. Bicycling to work and around campus is getting easier with all the additional bike lanes being built out, connecting the campus to neighboring areas.
“This expansion of mobility benefits will allow students, staff and faculty an alternative that not only is healthy, but can reduce the number of vehicles on campus, which will reduce our overall carbon footprint as a University,” Sheehy added.
The University’s cycling culture is strong and growing. Parking, Transportation and Services offers tips and resources for cyclists on its bicycling pages online and the student-operated Pitt Bike Cave offers bike repair and maintenance instruction on campus and online.
In 2012, the University was among the city’s first Bicycle Friendly Employers recognized by Bike PGH. In 2018, Pitt was named a Bronze Bicycle Friendly University by the League of American Bicyclists for the first time; the Pitt Sustainability Plan lays out a move up to Silver in 2020, that’s been delayed due to the pandemic.
Bicycling amenities are expanding throughout the city, and new bike lanes through and around campus are making Oakland more accessible for cyclists. Protected bike lanes were recently extended along Forbes Avenue and new lanes will be added as part of the Bigelow Block Transformation Project, slated for completion later this year.
Said Nick Goodfellow, Pitt’s sustainability coordinator for Auxiliary Services, “We are privileged in Oakland to be near some of the best biking infrastructure in Pittsburgh and I hope the new Healthy Ride benefit encourages more people to add this sustainable, active commuting option to their daily routine. I’m pleased this partnership will enable more members of the Pitt community to take advantage of our local bicycling amenities, regardless of whether they own a bike.”
How to access the benefit
Are the wheels already turning in your head? Get answers about activating your Healthy Ride bike share benefit, planning your commute, riding safely and more in an online information session.
View an information session on using the student bike share benefit on the Pitt Sustainability YouTube channel. All eligible riders should have received their access code.
Need help? Email healthyride [at] pitt.edu or visit the Healthy Ride at Pitt website.