Magazine

Ball State University

Bike Lockers Help Turn Campus Green

By Jenna Kyser

Recycling is a critical element of Ball State University's overall mission to improve the environmental and aesthetic quality of the campus. More bicycling means less green space is needed for automobile parking, as well as less air and noise pollution.
Ball State University was established on the lush, fertile fields of in Muncie, IN, in 1899. Over the past century, the college has grown to encompass more than 60 buildings on 1,000 acres of land. Current enrollment is 19,000 students, and the university awards 4,000 degrees every year. And it proudly serves as one of the area's largest employers.
Yet even as BSU continues to erect more buildings and accommodates more people, its administration remains ever mindful of the importance of green space -- as a link to the school's past, a benefit for students today and a preservation of vital resources for the future.
As part of its commitment to environmental stewardship, BSU has initiated a master plan to develop the entire campus as an arboretum. This is a long-term process involving many incremental steps. Already, the university has expanded the number of trees on campus, implemented an award-winning recycling program and installed bike lockers for campus residents.
Secure bike parking
BSU administrators recognized that secure bike parking would be crucial to the success of any bike program. Cyclists need assurance that their bikes will be protected against the elements, thieves and vandals.
Unfortunately, BSU's first attempt at providing such assurance failed when the original lockers it installed, which were composed of plastic veneer over wood composite panels, did not meet aesthetic or performance standards. They literally fell apart -- exposing bicycles to damage and theft, and marring the beauty of the BSU campus.
Convinced of the validity of the bicycling concept, BSU elected to replace the wood lockers with composite lockers. Over the past 20 years, the lockers have proven superior to wood, steel and conventional fiberglass lockers on every performance measurement: protection, convenience, longevity and aesthetics.
The program has been a great success, according to Eva Newnam, assistant director of housing and residence life for business services. "Both the staff and students have reacted positively," she said. "The staff is very happy with the look, sturdiness and manufacturing of bike lockers, and the students like the look and security much better than the old ones we were using."
Newnam added that the lockers have been very easy to manage -- a great plus for a lean organization. Lockers are installed outside student housing complexes, where they are available for a yearly rental of $40. Every single locker is being utilized and no damage has ever been reported.
In addition to aesthetics and manageability, the lockers offer users the assurance of an environmentally sensitive manufacturing process. Environmentally conscientious organ- izations like BSU are becoming more adamant that vendors minimize environmental impact at every step of the product delivery process. Unlike other bike parking solutions, these lockers are made using a closed-molding process that prevents VOCs (volatile organic compounds) from being released into the atmosphere. So BSU not only encourages environmentally friendly alternative transportation, it supports environmentally friendly manufacturing methods.
BSU plans to continue developing its campus into a "green" model -- not just for other campuses, but for society as a whole. In fact, the university has formed a new committee, called Green-2, to continue reaffirming their commitment to the environment. Ninety-four campus and community members make up the committee that is focused on "continuing the 'Greening of the Campus' legacy, on all fronts."
The lockers will be among the attractions at this year's "Greening of the Campus" conference on the BSU grounds. This annual event attracts participants from around the world to share ideas on environmental concerns. Topics include day-to-day management of the physical plant, "green" curriculum development and "green" utilization of campus resources.
For more information about Ball State University, visit: www.bsu.edu
The lockers are manufactured by Cycle Safe.

Jenna Kyser is Director of Media Relations at the Active Marketing Group.

Article Abstract from April, 2002




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