At Campus Bike Day, students kick off bicycle-commuting campaign

Pedal-powered rock music and specialized, off-beat bicycles were high points of Friday’s bike festival on Lower Sproul, as students launched a year-long campaign to promote cycling as a commute option of choice.

Melissa Jullig pedalling

Third-year student Melissa Jullig: "I go everywhere by bike."

“You’re not using fossil fuels! You’re converting your clean energy to audio power!” yelled an MC, cajoling volunteers to pedal harder, atop wired-for-power cycles, to keep the amplifier juiced and the music throbbing.

The sound system’s ever-changing troupe of volunteers — like attendees at the festival itself — ran the gamut from bicycling newbies to the sport’s confirmed die-hards.

“I’ve never ridden a bike before,” said Selinna Makana, a first-year grad student in African diaspora studies, as she kept the wheels rolling on a Rock the Bike cogeneration cycle.

Nearby, third-year student Melissa Jullig — an urban planning student who hopes to “invent” a transportation-engineering minor — sported a smile as she burned up calories for the cause. Growing up in suburbia, Jullig was car-bound, but all that changed once she got to Berkeley, she recalled.

These days, “I go everywhere by bike,” Jullig said. “You can do everything a pedestrian can do, just faster. I love going fast.”

Students were the driving force and major funders for Campus Bike Day (not to be confused with Bike to Work Day), which came in two parts: in the morning, bicyclists were greeted with energy bars and raffle tickets (for a chance to win a bicycle) at three strategically placed energizer stations. In the afternoon came the bike festival, where people could get free bicycle repairs, cycling education and gear, along with lots of encouragement to make bicycle commuting a way of life.

While Bike to Work Day happens in May, around the time of finals, the first-ever Campus Bike Day was timed to occur at the beginning of the school year “and to target everybody,” noted integrative-biology grad-student Ginger Jiu. Jiu is program manager for a new student organization, the Campus Bicycle Initiative, which won a grant this year from the student-funded Green Initiative Fund (TGIF).

The Campus Bike Initiative hopes to convert 420 members of the campus community — students, staff, faculty — from car to bicycle commuting.

“It’s a big goal,” admitted Jiu, “but we have a whole year to do it. Four hundred and twenty new cyclists, she added, “translates to a 1 percent reduction in campus transportation-related greenhouse-gas emissions.”

Hand-cycle for riders with disabilities

Mira Radosevich shows off a hand-cycle, customized for riders with disabilities.

Related coverage: At the heart of campus, BicyCal opens its new ‘hub’ (NewsCenter article, 2010)