If someone spends any amount of time on the University of New Mexico campus, they know there’s a big mix of cyclists, skateboarders, rollerbladers and pedestrians on the sidewalks.
This mix is concerning to some, such as recent UNM graduate Channing Hofman, who said that the lack of structure between pedestrians and non-pedestrians is hazardous.
“Biking around campus has always proved to be difficult at best,” Hofman said. “It’s always crowded, there are no clear directions or anything and it’s always frustrating getting from class to class. That’s kind of what sparked the idea of getting some folks together to try to make UNM a better place to bike.”
To respond to this lack of structure Hofman created a club at the end of last semester called UNMBikes! The club was born from his sustainability studies minor capstone project, he said.
“It’s still very much in infancy...As of now, I’m kind of the only person who’s running the thing, so I’m trying to get the word out there and get some more folks officially involved,” Hofman said.
He said he wants his club to be an open place for people to share their ideas and concerns.
“I kind of want to be more of a person who sets framework for a lot of other people to come and bring ideas about how it should be run, ideas for events and that kind of thing,” Hofman said.
But the club is not just for cyclists — anyone, whether they travel by wheel or foot, is welcome, he said.
“Skateboarders, cyclists, rollerbladers...any non-pedestrian mode of transportation throughout campus, you should feel at least somewhat involved with this, because it’s a great way to get around campus...Pedestrians, if you’re walking around, and you’re scared about getting hit by a cyclist, this is for you too. This (is) so that everyone can get around campus in a safer, more fun, environmentally-friendly way,” Hofman said.
He said he is interested in not just the safety and cohabitation of sidewalks when it comes to biking, but also the sustainability opportunities that biking offers.
“It’s tied into issues of personal health — getting people out of cars and onto bikes is just better for you and better for the environment,” Hofman said.
The club hopes to host workshops about bike safety and maintenance, as well as group bike riding, he said.
He said he wants to teach others about how to properly lock up a bike, since bike theft is a huge issue around campus and one of the reasons some people are doubtful about riding bikes.
“It’s really about getting the word out there, letting people know that there’s an organization that’s trying to advocate for better bike policies — hosting workshops, critical mass rides, just getting a bunch of people together and riding around campus or riding around the neighborhood,” Hofman said.
A bigger, more long-term goal the club has is changing UNM’s infrastructure, he said. This includes adding bike lanes, better bike racks and signs.
Hofman said he was behind some chalkings around campus with the bike lane symbol a few months ago.
“The goal was to literally just chalk bike lanes so people could see, ‘Oh, this is what it could be like,’” he said. “It was super easy, took a couple hours. We had some volunteers doing it...Those kind of direct-action events are really tied into some of the strategies that we’re trying to employ to really get to the goal of getting people on their bikes.”
Hofman is looking forward to more projects in the future, he said.
“The weather’s starting to turn around. People are thinking about biking and walking again. So I plan on starting to have at least monthly meetings going forward and start planning different events and things that are coming up. That’s the goal,” Hofman said.
Anyone interested in learning more about the club can contact Hofman at email@example.com, or go to the page.
Ariel Lutnesky is a freelance reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ArielLutnesky.