By Liz Spano, Student Reporter
Professors are finding new means of transportation to get to class, and if the trend continues, the faculty parking lots may start to look emptier.
By walking, skateboarding and riding bikes and motorcycles, ACU faculty are learning to enjoy the benefits, like exercise, entertainment and less of an environmental impact, that come with leaving their vehicles at home.
Jim Nichols, chair of the Department of Biology, said has ridden his bike to class for 37 years. The convenience of living close to campus makes it easy for Nichols to commute to class, and he said he bought a second car only when it came time for his daughter to drive.
“It’s fun, it’s easy and it’s good for me,” said Nichols, who normally uses his car just once a week to deliver Meals on Wheels. “I have saved over my lifetime thousands of dollars.”
Mike Wiggins, assistant professor of art design, also does not drive to work, but Wiggins prefers a skateboard over a bicycle.
“I think being outdoors is good for me psychologically,” Wiggins said. “I found that when I’m driving my car everywhere, I spend very little time outside.”
Wiggins, who lives about a half mile from campus, walked to class before realizing the time he could save on four wheels.
“I’ve been riding a skateboard since I was three,” he said. “It’s a nice form of transportation, and I’m surprised how breathless I am when I get to school.” He said skateboarding to class provides cardiovascular exercise every morning, and he also uses the time he spends walking or skateboarding to clear his head or listen to Podcasts.
Jim Cooke, professor of environmental science, does not like the term “alternative transportation,” but instead refers to minimizing car usage as simply something everyone should do.
“I ride a bicycle because I like it; it’s fun, it has lots of benefits, but also because I think it’s the right thing to do,” Cooke said.
Cooke uses a bike on campus, a gas-efficient motorcycle to navigate the town and a hybrid Prius car when necessary for other travel. He said he chooses these modes of transportation for efficiency, exercise and fun, and also in order to make a “green” impact.
“If we had a more bicycle friendly city and a more bike friendly campus, then we would begin to change the car culture and positively impact the issues of obesity, health, traffic congestion, parking,” he said. “If we went to more of a bicycle culture or bicycle frame of mind. then we could change our current car culture.”
To increase the use of bikes on campus as opposed to vehicles, Cooke initiated a program in the past called the “Purple Bike Program,” in which students were given the opportunity to use painted purple bikes on campus without any responsibility or ownership of the bike. In this way, students could commute on campus and use any purple bike parked on the university grounds and then leave it outside for another student to use. Although the idea was unsuccessful at the time because of funding and bicycle maintenance issues, Cooke said there is a possibility of trying the Purple Bike Program again in the future.
“You might think you can’t make a difference,” he said. “But there are things that you can do, and the way you change the world is by changing yourself.”
posted 2/05/09 @ 11:59 PM CST
man i miss some of those riding some of those lines.
posted 2/07/09 @ 3:30 AM CST
I really enjoyed you article on Trading your Parking Pass and that Mike Wigging is amazing, he’s so handsome. I can’t believe he’s been riding skateboards since he was three! What a brilliant child he must have been. He must of had a wonderful childhood, with lots of love and attention form loving, caring, sweet, attentive, sisters. You know I believe that’s probable where he got his love and respect for the environment from the amazing example of his sisters. Yes your article really touched me, I believe I’ll be riding my skateboard to work from now on, you’ve changed my mind thank you! Well done~
Melissa Wiggins Beeman (Mike’s sister) No really great article all kidding aside.
posted 2/08/09 @ 8:51 AM CST
Oh, he ain’t all that.
James M Green
posted 2/12/09 @ 7:26 PM CST
Hate to break it but the student code of conduct I signed said no skateboards on campus. What a great role model
posted 2/15/09 @ 5:56 PM CST
Well James I hate to tell you but Mike has always been a rule breaker, and Cole he really is “all that” even if it is just to us chosen few:) Love His adoring Skateboarding Boarding Fans
posted 2/16/09 @ 11:29 AM CST
Maybe James means “roll model.” Get it? Ha ha ha ha.