Building bikeUMD – why collaboration works

Of course the calendar year doesn’t hold the same kind of sense of renewal as the academic year in the university setting but I still wanted to take a moment to look back at all that we have accomplished. I think that one of the most powerful things the bikeUMD has done for biking is develop a strong collaboration across units here on campus. We hold truly productive meetings with representatives from Campus Recreation Services, Campus Police, and the Department of Transportation Services. I also work closely with the office of Administrative Affairs and I depend heavily on support from the Student Government Association and from individual students, such as Ph.D candidate Alexandra Curtin. Readers from other universities may have a better grasp on how important this is. When I arrived here, I imagined that a college campus would be a thriving gestalt of departments all sharing research and best practices but the truth is everyone is so busy they are tearing their hair out.

So this opportunity to work together and to communicate freely between several very different groups has really been key to staying vital. It also provides an opportunity to hear very separate points of view and to draw data from distinctly different sources. For example, our collaboration with the campus police means that communications about u-locks and theft prevention can be backed up with real statistics. Our partnership with the ERC means that we can reach out to non-traditional target groups such as the students, mostly women, who participate in campus spinning classes. It also means that our events are listed on the campus wellness initiative website http://www.wellness.umd.edu/

My role at the Department of Transportation Services (DOTS) means that we can contact every registered bicycle owner. We can also reach out to drivers in our efforts to promote the principles of sharing the road.

Prior to my arrival campus already had a Bicycle Advisory Group (BAG). These committee volunteers are from very different departments on campus such as Residential Facilities, The office of the Vice President of Student Affairs and Facilities Management. This is yet another way we create a dense web of information about cycling on campus. This information allows us to move quickly to develop programs that add value to the students now.

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