Penn State study says universities fall short in promoting biking for minority groups
In a new study of 51 universities considered to be "Bicycle Friendly" campuses, Penn State researchers found that only 10% are encouraging minority groups to use bicycles.
“There’s a lack of doing anything regarding programming or promoting bicycling for underrepresented or underserved populations,” said lead author of the study and Penn State kinesiology grad student Lucas Elliott.
People of Color, women, the LGBTQ+ community, individuals with disabilities and people with low-incomes are some of the groups surveyed in the study, published in the Journal of American Health.
Elliott says bicycling can help lower cardiovascular disease, lower risk of obesity, diabetes and mental health issues. He said it can also help by lower the amount of cars around campus making it more pedestrian friendly.
The goal of the study is to find out ways to help these minority communities become more active to help fight the obesity epidemic. Biking isn’t the only way that people can fight the issue, something as simple as walking can help as well.
Elliott and his team also found that 48% of the universities in the study did not have programming to promote walking or biking. It was also found that if women were taken out of the study, only 2% of the minority population in universities were encouraged to bike.
In August 2021, Penn State partnered with a company called “Spin” to make electric bikes available on campus. There are about 300 of these bikes throughout State College and people can access them through an app that allows you to unlock the bike at $1 and then ride it for $0.25 per minute.
“Spin bikes are great. They are e-bikes, they are easier for people to ride. However, I haven’t seen any of that actually focused on a disabled population,” Elliott said.
Elliott suggests all universities have different bike programs, including bikes modified for disabled people, and free bike classes teaching people how to use them.