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Getting around on campus, sans car

CLAIRE C. LAURENCE/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Education graduate student Jen Thorpe walks her bike across campus Tuesday afternoon. The cost of parking and time constraints appear to have lead many UA students to rely on cycling as their primary form of transportation.
By Kylee Dawson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
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To avoid the high cost of parking on campus, many UA students are using bicycles, skateboards and other alternative methods of getting to and from classes.

With more than 9,600 bicycle parking spaces campus-wide and clearly defined bike routes, most UA students prefer riding their bicycles, as they can get around more quickly than if they had to walk from class to class.

Two wheels beat two feet

Many UA students agree that bicycling is one of the healthiest and most cost effective means of transportation.

"I can get exercise, which I need, and I live close to campus," said Ryan A. Parks, a psychology junior. "It's much easier to get around campus without having to pay for parking or finding a paying spot or deciding which garage (to park in) or (finding out) if it's full."

Parks works as a cashier for Parking and Transportation Services and owns a car, but prefers riding his bike to campus.

Riding a bike is "much easier 'cause parking on campus sucks," Parks said. "I work for them, so I know personally."

While some students use their bicycles exclusively to get around campus, others use their bicycles for all purposes.

Joel Devlin Arthur, a junior majoring in English and creative writing, used to ride his bike to campus every day until he got a flat tire last week. Now he walks to class from his apartment on University Boulevard and Fourth Avenue because he does not own a car.

"It's very hard in the summer not to have a bike," Arthur said. "It's very taxing, very laborious to walk everywhere when a bike can get you there 10 or 20 minutes faster."

He said the UA is a good place to bicycle "because there are so many bike paths, so you can get around."

However, Arthur said that other areas of Tucson are not very bike-friendly, such as Fourth Avenue, where Arthur must ride in heavy traffic.

When he needs to run errands, such as getting groceries, Arthur sometimes has to ride his bike as far north as Grant Avenue and as far east as Tucson Boulevard.

"It's not fun on Speedway and Grant because people drive too fast," said Arthur. "But when I'm in a car, I like to go fast."

Other UA students enjoy riding their bicycles for leisure. Leona Davis, a renewable natural resources junior, lives six blocks away from campus and rides her bicycle every day, even when not going to class.

"I live off of Mountain Avenue, which I think is one of the best bike routes in Tucson," she said. "It has an awesome, spacious bike lane."

Bicycle safety on and off campus is also a concern of Davis.

"I'd say definitely there are certain rules of etiquette you have to abide by when driving or using any means of transportation. If you ride safely, it's definitely a safe place to ride."

However, Davis said that some streets in Tucson are not as safe for bicycling as they could be.

"There are streets I think should have better biking provisions that don't," she said. "Not all of Tucson is bike safe, but there are definitely bike-safe routes that you can figure out."

Skateboarding: A crime not to ride

For students who don't have or want to ride bicycles, skateboards are another option.

Rather than skateboarding as just a hobby, Erik Acuņa, an undeclared freshman, now uses his skateboard to get from class to class quickly.

"I used to be into skateboarding a lot, but now I just ride a skateboard to get around campus," he said. "So I'm just getting back into it."

When he used his skateboard, Acuņa said it took him a minute to get from the parking garage on Tyndall Avenue to the Family Consumer Science building, a five-block trip.

"It's a lot faster," he said. "I was late to class one day so I used my skateboard and I got there really fast."

Acuņa also believes it is safer to use a skateboard to get around campus than to use a bicycle.

"I bought a skateboard because I can just take it into class and not worry about it getting stolen," he said.

Get on the shuttle

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Some students prefer taking the CatTran Shuttle as opposed to walking, skateboarding or bicycling.

"It's a free shuttle and it has air conditioning and a schedule," said Lee Anne Denny, a first-year medical student, who used to take the shuttle every day during her junior year as a psychology student.

"It's really hot to bike and it's hard to find parking," she said.

Denny takes the shuttle less frequently during the summer, but still believes it is an efficient way to get around campus.

During the fall and spring semesters, the CatTran Shuttle has seven routes: USA, Purple, Yellow, Mauve, Teal, Orange and Copper.

These routes vary, but provide free transportation from the campus parking lots to various parts of the campus. Some shuttles even take students into residential areas north of campus.

The shuttle system is also very helpful for the disabled, who cannot easily use other means to get around campus. Some shuttles are wheelchair accessible, so disabled students with wheelchairs, walkers and/or with seriously reduced mobility may use the lift if needed.

Shuttles operate Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Riding schedules with guidelines are available on the CatTran shuttles.

For more information about the CatTran Shuttle program and riding suggestions, call 621-7721.

Additionally, UA Parking and Transportation Services provides free bicycle registration for students. This service provides a free lock-cutting service for students who lose their bicycle keys and will even help students locate lost or stolen bicycles.

To register your bike or get a map of all campus bike routes and safety regulations, call 626-RIDE.

Getting to campus

As an alternative to driving, students who live relatively close to campus prefer alternative means of transportation, like the SunTran buses, carpooling and even walking.

During the school year, Fatima Alhosani, a public administration and health and human services administration senior, takes the bus to campus every day.

"I take bus number four (Speedway Boulevard), then I take bus 17 (Country Club Road), and sometimes I take bus five (Wilmot Road)," Alhosani said.

"If I am in a hurry I take bus number four because it comes every 10 minutes, but then I have to walk home five blocks. If am not in hurry I take bus number five because it passes behind my house so I only need to walk one block.

Even though she has a car, Alhosani said she rides the bus so she doesn't "have to deal with finding parking space" on campus.

"It is so expensive to park on campus," she said. "It costs $5 for the whole day and $2 per hour."

Even students who are willing to pay for parking might not always get a parking space close to their classrooms.

"Sometimes all garages are full and then I need to drive around campus until I find a space," Alhosani said.

"Besides, garages on campus are located far from the center of the campus. I don't think it is worth driving to school unless you have a permit."

There are seven SunTran buses that run near the UA campus, including numbers four, five and 81, which run on Speedway Boulevard; 15, which runs on Campbell Avenue; one and six, which run on Park Avenue, and three, which runs on Sixth Street.

It costs $1 for a single trip, which includes a transfer if needed. A $2 day pass is good for unlimited rides.

A monthly bus pass costs $28, a quarterly pass costs $75, a UA semester bus pass costs $70 and an annual bus pass costs $275.

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