UUPD Joins U’s Effort to Become More Sustainable


(Photo courtesy of the University of Utah Police)

By Devin Oldroyd, News Writer


As the University of Utah takes steps to have a more environmentally sustainable campus, working towards carbon neutrality, the U’s Police Department have received three e-bikes in collaboration with U Sustainability.

“The university police have been patrolling the campus with some very old bicycles,” said U Sustainability’s Active Transportation Manager Ginger Cannon. “They identified a need to have better bicycles for daily patrol. We have been supporting e-bicycle purchasing programs for our own departments and for the community. We knew that doing their patrol using e-bikes would be a good use of Sustainability funds.”

The new e-bikes are a tool for the UUPD, and an environmentally-conscious alternative to the use of police cars.

“Bikes, in general, are a better way to move around campus as well as tight spaces that cars cannot get to,” said Associate Director of UUPD Shawn Bryce in an interview via email. “E-bikes are better for the environment and they meet the needs of our bike patrol. UUPD wants to be a part of the solution for making our environment better and the e-bikes gave us the opportunity to do so.”

E-bikes come in a variety of forms from battery to solar-powered.

“Basically, e-bikes are bicycles that have some type of motor that assists the person riding the bike at varying levels,” Cannon said. “That really makes the e-bike, according to research, a tool that people use more frequently for longer rides. It’s also being used as a transportation device that replaces short car rides. Most daily [car] trips that people in the United States take are under three miles, so e-bikes are replacing car trips in many parts of the country.”

The U has been ranked a Gold Bicycle Friendly university by The League of American Bicyclists, an honor shared by only a dozen universities nationwide, according to Cannon.

“The League of American Bicyclists certifies universities, communities and businesses to be bicycle friendly,” Cannon said. “They have a ranking system that goes from bronze all the way up to platinum.”

According to Cannon, the U makes a number of commitments to maintain a Gold Bicycle Friendly status.

“The league tracks everything from how many miles of bikeways you have, how many parking spaces you have [and] the opinion of your community on how bike-friendly the university is,” Cannon said. “They actually will interview community members and ask them a series of questions. It is a pretty extensive national benchmarking program. We’d love to be platinum in 2022.”

Increasing the use of e-bikes on campus contributes to the U’s commitment to be more environmentally sustainable as, unlike cars, bicycles do not release emissions.

“We know that driving less is really important in order to improve our air quality, to improve our personal health and also our community’s health,” Cannon said. “It’s really important that we see more, what I call, butts on bikes.”

Emissions released by cars are a large contributor to Salt Lake City’s air quality issues.

“At least as of right now, the predominant source of our air quality issues in the Salt Lake Valley is mobile vehicles, including personal cars and trucks,” said Sustainability Engagement and Communications Manager Ayrel Clark-Proffitt. “So it is really important to get the butts on bikes. This is a solution, not the end all be all, [but] it is one piece of a much, much larger effort across the campus.”

To learn more about the U’s commitment to carbon neutrality and to be more environmentally sustainable, visit U Sustainability’s website.


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