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It’s Easy Being Green at BU

Sustainability Festival includes bike safety tips, free tune-ups


Living sustainably doesn’t require asceticism or a complete home remodel. Sometimes it’s as simple as buying food grown locally, drinking tap water, or biking or walking to school or work.

BU’s third annual Sustainability Festival, taking place today from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Marsh Plaza, features more than a dozen organizations that are part of the BU Environmental Coalition, including the BU Beekeepers Club the BU Energy Club, and Net Impact, which is devoted to sustainability issues.

A host of green organizations is taking part in the festival, among them Goodwill, which will accept gently used clothing items, and energy efficiency company Next Step Living, which will help register people for a free energy audit. Visitors to sustainability@BU’s table can sign up for Join the Challenge, an initiative that encourages students to complete at least one sustainable action (like carrying a reusable coffee mug) each month, with the goal of reducing their carbon footprint.

Sustainability @ at BU, Boston University Sustainability Steering Committee, Recycling and Waste Management, Energy Conservation, Sustainable Building and Facility Operations

Sustainability@BU is cohosting the festival with Dining Services and BU’s Bike Safety Committee. Photo by Vernon Doucette

In addition, Dining Services’ weekly farmers market participants are pitching tents on the plaza, selling local produce, pastries, honey, and other homemade goodies. The market is held each Thursday on the GSU Plaza from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. through October 25.

And for the first time, this year’s Sustainability Festival is hosting a number of clubs and organizations that promote bike and pedestrian safety. Visitors can get free bike tune-ups and could snag free bike gear and one of two bikes being raffled.

Cycling on the Charles River Campus has increased greatly in recent years, as indicated by the number of bicycle accidents reported to the Boston University Police Department. In the past five years, there were 43 reported bike accidents, most of them involving vehicles, and more than 80 percent of them have occurred since 2010. Citywide last year, the Boston Police Department received reports of 365 bicycle accidents, with two fatalities among them. Boston Bikes, a program administered by the office of Mayor Thomas Menino (Hon.’01), notes that the intersection of Commonwealth Avenue and the BU Bridge is one of the most dangerous in the city for cyclists.

That’s why Webb Lancaster, Auxiliary Services director of operations and a member of the University’s Bike Safety Committee, says those “kings of the cul de sac” who are able to tranquilly ride their bikes back home, need to keep their heads up here. “People just don’t realize how crazy Comm Ave is and how much more alert you need to be cycling on the streets of Boston,” he says.

BU Bikes at the Earth Day Festival 2012, Boston University Bicycle Safety Committee, Sustainability @ at BU

BU Bikes will be among more than a dozen cycling clubs and organizations at the festival. Photo by Vernon Doucette

Weaving bike safety into the Sustainability Festival is “our attempt at doing what we can to help change the culture in Boston,” says Jarrod Clement, Judicial Affairs records coordinator and another member of the Bike Safety Committee. “Everybody knows motorists don’t get along with cyclists, who don’t get along with pedestrians. Unless we as cyclists start playing by the rules, then the motorists will never take us seriously.”

Clement has recruited more than a dozen bike shops and organizations to participate in the festival, including Landry’s Bicycles, REI, Massbike, Urban Adventours, BU Bikes, Bikes Not Bombs, and the Hubway bike share program. Mechanics will be on hand for the free tune-ups.

Sustainability director Dennis Carlberg calls the festival a great opportunity for students to “get a better understanding of how they can get engaged in campus sustainability and connect with people who want to make a positive difference in the world.”

Leslie Friday, BU Today, Boston University
Leslie Friday

Follow Leslie Friday on Twitter at @lesliefriday.

2 Comments on It’s Easy Being Green at BU

  • Renaldo on 09.13.2012 at 7:59 am

    After having experienced bike commuting in densely populated urban areas in Europe, I’d have to say that, for bicyclists, Comm Ave is nothing short of (barely) controlled chaos, a war zone. In more civilized countries, city managers are able to design and implement rational bike paths that are safe enough for even small children to ride their bikes to school. Simply painting a green stripe in the middle of the street and labeling this a ‘bike path’ would have a German or Dutch urban planner howling with laughter. Watching the area around the BU Bridge at 5 pm is more like watching a street in Mumbai or Sao Paolo rather than Rotterdam or Munich, it’s definitely a scene from the Third World. An urban planner from Hamburg would look at that green stripe going straight through the path of auto traffic at the BU Bridge and chuckle, commenting “This is a joke, an attempt at gallows humor, right?”

    • MoonBatman on 09.13.2012 at 3:03 pm


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