City and regional planning senior Sloan Campi refuses to use his 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee, given to him as a gift, as his main method of transportation. Rather, the vehicle he prefers has two wheels, two fenders, a cracked, powder blue paint job and the words “Schwinn Speedster” written in white lettering on its side.
Others call it a bike, he calls this his car.
“My dad gave me this bike about two years ago,” Campi said. “It’s gone with me to just about anywhere. I use it practically every day. When it breaks down on me, I get mad at it; when it does well for me, I am proud of it.”
In Campi’s time spent on his favorite two wheels, he’s noticed a few things about Cal Poly, specifically, its need for greater biking awareness. So he, environmental management and protection senior Michelle Keplinger and architecture senior Marisa Low co-founded the Cal Poly Bicycle Coalition.
The potential club, based on biking safety, will encourage students and staff to bike more, Campi said. It also plans on working closely with facilities and other facets of campus administration to create a friendlier and safer biking experience on campus through new infrastructure and renovations.
“I know many students who don’t want to own a bike because they’re too scared; they don’t know the rules or they don’t know how to ride,” Campi said. “But, our goal is to educate all of those groups, so that the bikers are safe, the pedestrians are safe and everyone else is enjoying the campus.”
That’s all to change the current biking experience on campus. It’s a disconnected system where bike paths stop abruptly and dangerously, particularly at the areas on the west side of campus, Campi said.
The stoplight near Alex G. Spanos Stadium is one of the worst areas, Campi said. With the exception of one stoplight, cars, pedestrians and bicyclists blow through that area unmonitored and unregulated.
“I’ve seen people get hurt on their bikes, run into people,” Campi said. “There’s just this tension that gets created between people on bikes and pedestrians. Right now, it’s just a cluster and a mess.”
Making those areas safe has been the group’s plan since the get-go.
Campi, Keplinger and Low started the group as a class project, which inspired the idea to make it an official club. They’ve turned in the required paperwork to Associated Students, Inc. Club Services and expect to receive a decision on the charter in two weeks.
From there, the co-founders aim to obtain “Bicycle Friendly University” status from the League of American Bicyclists. The accolade is given to college campuses that are biker-friendly to faculty and students. With Cal Poly being as much of a biking campus as it is, Keplinger said it’s surprising the school hasn’t already reached the status yet.
“All the big bike schools like (University of California), Santa Barbara and (University of California), Davis, they all kind of have specific bike groups just like this,” Keplinger said. “They are all in the Bike Friendly University list, and we’re just trying to get where they are at, mimic what they do as a guide.”
The group has also received help from the San Luis Obispo County Bicycle Coalition. And while the on-campus organization will not be affiliated with the county’s biking coalition, the Coalition couldn’t be happier a group dedicated to biking is starting on campus, San Luis Obispo County Bicycle Coalition executive director Dan Rivoire said.
“While we appreciate the work Cal Poly has been doing to put in more bike parking, bike lanes and facilities around campus, we think that they could (do) an even better job making it safer for bicyclists and pedestrians to get around,” Rivoire said. “The Cal Poly Bike Coalition will be able to emphasize the importance to build those smart facilities and remind administration how important it is to build that stuff quickly.”
Cal Poly hasn’t had a group such as this is previously because of lack of awareness, Low said. Since there’s never been a group aimed toward bicycle safety, no one’s ever taken action or tried to communicate the problems to campus administration.
“Our organization is going to try and be that communication, but there hasn’t been any in the past,” Low said. “That’s probably why it’s not really on anyone’s mind. It’s kind of something that’s been put on the backburner.”
Not for long, Low, Keplinger and Campi hope. With their chance at a new club charter, they’re hoping spread awareness for campus safety — so everyone can enjoy riding their bike as much as Campi loves riding his 1978 Schwinn Speedster.
“I have used my bike since day one at Cal Poly; this thing is my daily driver,” Campi said. “It’s the most efficient mode of transportation for me.”