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Latest transportation trend on campus: three wheels

by Denise Fitzpatrick,communications and marketing last modified Aug 13, 2014 03:55 PM

Victoria Harpe will never run out of gas while she’s rushing around UofL’s campus, even though she’s sporting a new set of wheels.

Three wheels, to be precise.

Harpe, manager of UofL’s Information Technology help desk, may be the first Belknap Campus employee to ride an adult tricycle on the job. She acquired the shiny, red trike in June through the university’s Earn-A-Bike program.

Earn-A-Bike, a UofL Sustainability Council program launched in 2012, allows faculty, staff and students who give up their parking permits to apply for $400 bicycle vouchers. Earlier this year, the program was broadened to provide bikes for employees at work.

“I’m still getting used to it,” said Harpe, who originally wanted a bicycle before learning she could haul more equipment around on a three-wheeler. There are two baskets on her tricycle, a medium-sized one in front and a large one in back roomy enough for a personal computer.

This fall, the trike—which has an adjustable seat to accommodate riders of every height—will be available to other IT employees who want to use it at work, she said.

Harpe is one of a growing number of UofL employees choosing cycles over motorized transport during their working hours. The university’s Department of Public Safety began using bikes for community policing in 1991. Now, more than two decades later, cycles are starting to show up in other campus offices.

About 20 staffers are now riding bikes on the job, including Physical Plant workers, parking officers and custodians, said Justin Mog, assistant to the provost for sustainability initiatives.

Dennis Keefe, UofL’s assistant director of mechanical services, is riding a bike at work, as are six of his eight foremen.

“I was skeptical at first, but it’s worked out great,” Keefe said. “There are still times you need a truck, but when I ride a bike I can get around campus three or four times faster. It’s a good time-management tool.”

Belknap Campus parking officer Josh Phillips carries jumper cables, towing equipment and other job-related gear in rear saddlebags on his bicycle at work.

“It’s a lot easier to get around campus on a bike,” Phillips said. “I can make it from one end of campus to the other in two minutes, instead of having to drive all the way around campus, which can take 15 minutes. Plus I’m saving money on gas.”

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