CNN actually has something fairly worthwhile to read on its website.  Color me surprised.

Emory University is hoping to make bikes the must-have back-to-school accessory this fall.

The school is selling discounted bicycles to students and faculty, adding bike lanes to campus roads and stocking bikes that can be borrowed for free.

The university is pushing its $250,000 “Bike Emory” initiative, launched a year ago, in hopes of convincing students and faculty that the eco-friendly bikes are a better alternative to their four-wheeled, gas-guzzling counterparts.

Cycling already has a foothold at many colleges, where hefty parking fees, sprawling campuses and limited roads make it tough to travel. Still, most students are reluctant to leave their cars parked.

“They’re using them to drive from residence halls to class, which is a two- or three-block commute,” said Ric Damm, an administrator and cycling coach at Ripon College, which is giving away $300 bikes to freshmen who leave their cars at home. “We thought, ‘How can we provide an incentive to get them out of that behavior?”‘

Damm’s school, outside Oshkosh, Wisconsin, has spent $26,000 on its free bike program, which so far has signed up half of the 300-student freshman class, Damm said.

“I think a big draw is the just the environmental aspect,” said freshman Regina Nelson, who readily signed up for a free bike. “And, honestly, I think that anything free when you’re in college is good, especially something like a bike that is worth something.”

Emory started a bike-share program a couple of months ago. It has just 20 bikes now, but that will double by this fall, said Jamie Smith, who oversees the initiative. The sign-out lists for the bikes had just 12 names on them after the program started in April, but that number climbed to 45 in June during the typically slow summer, Smith said.

There’s no reason for colleges to not lead on something like this.  Even if it means starting a bike share program and providing several bikes for the student body to use, this is a great way for colleges to assist students in showing some environmental responsibility.

Student affairs offices need to follow this trend.

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