WATS article (Photo 4)

A collection of bikes on Concrete Beach, Jan. 17, 2019.

The fight against climate change is reverberating around the world — and it's pedalling uphill into London.

Despite all the strikes at London City Hall, students are still struggling to be environmentally friendly in one local sense: cycling. 

Forest City, ironically, lacks some important infrastructure required to be environmentally friendly. What’s more is the city caters to mass amounts of students eight months out of the year — one would think this influx of post-secondary population would have affected some sort of change.

Students are a dependent demographic: we rely on cheap alternatives — buses, instead of cars. And when the buses get full, we bike. 

Sure, few are known to bike during the lengthy winter months in London. These are the months where people avoid the cold, regardless of the cost: we drive more, we ramp up the heat to sate the shivers. In light of this, should be taking advantage of the bike-friendly months, if no reason else other than to compensate for the costly winter. 

Students typically live close to campus for convenience. To get to campus, biking is definitely a viable option. Or, it should be. Student populated streets near the university, like Sarnia Road, Richmond Street and Wharncliffe Road North, either partially or totally lack bike lanes.

Of course, you don’t need a bike lane to ride your bike on the street, but these streets are busy. And as everyone knows, biking on the sidewalk is illegal. So without its own lane, biking is hazardous.

London already has designated bike road routes, like Colborne Street downtown— it’s just a matter of putting them near students where the demand is high.

On campus, where London's students are concentrated, there's a clear accommodation for cyclists.

Western University has adapted to the green movement through sustainable initiatives such as Purple Bikes. This bike shop, once located in the University Community Centre, was a cycling co-operative that specialized in helping students with bike-related needs. They offered bikes for rent, helped with repairs and promoted biking in general.

But, in light of the ancillary fee cuts by the provincial government, Purple Bikes is no longer in operation. The University Students Council, who ran it, shut it down after cuts to their ancillary fee funding.

Now more than ever, as the province turns its back on students, the London municipality should be doing what it can — because the efforts of the university population are diminished when they’re not supported by the city.

The fact remains that bike lanes on campus are only as good as the bike lanes leading to campus.

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