Students, faculty and staff who bike to campus have a new resource to help them find safe routes, repair tips and more.
The University of Denver’s Emergent Digital Practices (EDP) program and DU’s Center for Sustainability have teamed up with a variety of bike programs throughout Colorado to create Denver GEARS (Get Energized And Ride Sustainably), an interactive website and mobile resource that connects riders with safe routes, bike repair pit stops, advice from experienced “GEARS gurus” and more.
GEARS worked with programs such as OpenBike and BikeDenver to provide bike route information. The GEARS website features video of various bike routes to campus so that riders can see what their commutes will actually look like. This feature gives the inexperienced biker an idea of traffic patterns and road conditions. GEARS also shares videos by IntownBicycles of simple bike repair tutorials, including how to lube your bike or adjust your gears.
Unique to GEARS are the “GEARS gurus,” a group of bike enthusiasts who offer their advice and experience to encourage new riders to join them on the road.
Chad King, the University’s sustainability coordinator, says increasing the number of DU bike commuters will help reduce the school’s carbon footprint. He presented the issue to EDP Professor Conor McGarrigle, who tasked his Designing Social Good class with creating the program that eventually became GEARS.
“It’s a great first step toward engaging students with DU’s carbon neutrality goals,” says Brandon Gellis, an EDP graduate student and the branding and marketing lead for GEARS and the Center for Sustainability, “but it’s also an important project beyond that. It’s about community awareness and encouraging dialogue about sustainability.”
The GEARS project targets “interested but concerned” cyclists, people curious about cycling but who largely don’t ride. According to research, this group makes up 60 percent of the cyclist population. “They are concerned about safety and also have concerns about whether they have the requisite levels of fitness to cycle,” McGarrigle says. “We set out to target this group by addressing these concerns about safety and the difficulty of cycling to campus.”
The GEARS team hopes to expand the project beyond the DU campus to have an impact on Denver and the Front Range.