A $160 million renovation of University of Oregon’s Erb Memorial Student Union (EMU) will include a new, 5,000 square foot ‘Bike Center’ that will include retail and repair services, secure bike parking, showers, locker space and more. The project shows UO’s response to the growing demand for bicycling at the Eugene campus where 17 percent of students ride.
UO’s Bike Program is currently housed on the edge of campus in a cramped space dubbed “the barn.” EMU Bike Center Project Coordinator Briana Orr, who helped start UO’s Bike Program in 2008, told me today that the EMU Bike Center is modeled after Portland State University’s Bike Hub. “It’s best model we’ve seen.”
Orr says the move to the EMU is also a major step for the Bike Program and for bicycling at the university in general. “Having our own space and professional staff means we’ll feel a bit more legitimate.”
Once up and running the UO Bike Program budget will go from $26,000 a year to $100,000 a year. Orr says about half that new budget will come from revenue generated by the shop.
Why should a university prioritize bicycling and offer top-notch facilities? It’s simple economics, as Orr laid out in the Bike Center proposal:
“Dollar for dollar, bicycling infrastructure costs less than auto or mass transit infrastructure per user.i Bicycling is not only economically sensible for the institution, it is economically sensible for students. Providing the least expensive transportation options will help those financially struggling to attend college.”