Editor’s note:This article was published as part of an April Fool’s Edition of The Concordian
Two of the most recurring complaints by Concordia students and faculty are that there is not enough parking on campus, and that the school is not sustainable enough. The college hopes to solve both of these problems with the introduction of a new bicycle parking lot next fall.
The lot will be called the Go-Green Bicycle Lot, and will take the place of the Fjelstad parking lot on the north end of campus. The decision to replace the crowded Fjelstad lot with a bicycle lot was made by the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Committee, which consists of faculty, alumni, and students. While the administration anticipates some initial outrage, their overall outlook is positive.
“Kids tend to be angry when they get their cars taken away,” said Paul Lution, president of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Committee, “and that’s essentially what we’re doing. If there’s no place to park, they simply can’t bring their cars.”
The Go-Green Bicycle Lot was just one of several proposals to solve Concordia’s parking problem. Others options included building a parking garage, charging for parking passes, and bulldozing the Jones Science Center to make room for a new parking lot. Ultimately, the Go-Green Bicycle lot seemed to fit the college’s mission best.
“Part of being dedicated to the Christian life means being a good steward of God’s earth,” Lution said. “We simply cannot claim to be doing that if we allow all our students to release greenhouse gases in their daily transportation.”
Lution said that in order to keep tempers down, the college will not instill rules about who can and cannot bring a car to school the first year.
“We’re hoping that the knowledge of the Go-Green Bicycle lot will be enough to discourage students from bringing their cars to school,” Lution said.
In years to come, however, only upper classmen or students who pay a certain fee may be allowed to park. In the meantime, students who need a way to get around are invited to bring their bikes to school. College officials estimate the Go-Green Bicycle Lot will be able to hold approximately 1000 bikes.
Students who don’t have bikes can use Concordia’s Yellow Bike Service, which provides campus-owned bicycles for students to ride and return. The spaces closest to the physical plant will be reserved for Yellow Bikes, and the Yellow Bike fleet will be increased to nearly 100 bicycles. While the attempt to begin Yellow Bike was not very successful this year, the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Committee is hopeful that the bicycle lot will reinvigorate the program and encourage students to keep the Yellow Bikes intact.
Members of Concordia’s Student Environmental Alliance, which was behind the move to get rid of a parking lot and replace it with bicycle storage, considers the initiative a victory for sustainability.
“Once the wheel was invented, it took only 5,000 more years until someone had the idea of putting two of them together and pedaling around,” said Stewart Herman, SEA’s faculty advisor. “And that was just 100 years ago. We are just getting started.”
One major concern from students was how to deal with bicycles in the winter. Bikes that are left out in the Moorhead weather can easily rust if exposed to too much rain or snow, but the administration plans to solve this problem by building large solar panels in the lot that will double as shelters for the bikes.
While bicycles aren’t as easy to use in the winter, Herman said that this likely won’t be a problem in the future because at the rate the planet is warming, winter will probably be gone altogether within the next decade.
“Students will probably have to learn to ride on ice at first, but let’s face it: ice simply won’t be around much longer,” he said.
Erik George, former president of SEA, thinks that students will quickly warm up to the idea as well.
“At first, I’m sure lots of students will feel they’re having their rights taken away,” he said. “But over time, I think they’ll realize that bikes are more convenient anyway.”
Nathaniel Cook, current co-president of SEA, agrees. He thinks that students are already aware of the advantages that bikes have over cars, so the change will be an easy one for students to adjust to.
“Bikes are just as good as cars when it comes to transportation,” Cook said, “but they have the added advantage of being healthier for both the rider and the earth.”
While SEA is happy with what they consider the first of many steps to reduce Concordia’s carbon footprint, the organization plans to take even more aggressive steps to promote bicycle riding over driving. Herman said that the key to this process is making sure students have a place to keep their bikes.
“If necessary, we may want to flatten a few buildings, too,” Herman said. “You can’t make too much room for bicycles.”
I am a senior English writing major and political science minor at Concordia College, but I originally hail from Fort Collins, Colorado. I have a deep passion for humanitarian aid and the power of the written word. I am currently the Editor-in-Chief of the 2011-2012 Concordian, though on occasion I also write and take pictures.
Dream job: hybrid freelance journalist/human rights lawyer.