The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

GV provides a bike accessible campus for students, visitors

GVL/ Abigail Jones

Grand Rapids is the second-largest city in Michigan and spans over 45 square miles. It features elite restaurants, savvy bars, unique entertainment, and bustling nightlife. However, a recent survey reveals Grand Rapids appears to be sorely lacking in a surprising manner: bicycling friendliness and accessibility.

According to an article written by the organization People for Bikes, Grand Rapids ranked 31 among Michigan cities regarding bike friendliness. This annual survey looks into how readily accessible important landmarks are via bicycling, such as hospitals and grocery stores. However, People for Bikes found that Grand Rapids falls short in this aspect.

This lack of accessible bicycle path can often drive up transportation costs for students. BestColleges estimates that per academic year, it can cost around $360 in gas expenses for students. This cost doesn’t even include individualized car payment plans, auto insurance and vehicle repairs.

There are also extra expenses college students must pay for such as parking passes. For the 2023-2024 academic school year at Grand Valley State University, a car pass for student commuters costs upwards of $480. As a resident at GVSU, it costs $420. The price of student parking fails to answer the logistical question; what if there isn’t enough parking available?

“I only parked there [non-permissible spots] if there weren’t any spots left,” said Olivia Carmody, a junior at GVSU majoring in Graphic Design. “Usually in student commuter parking lots, I’d park in because there weren’t as many spots as residents. I’m at Calder a lot and they changed a student commuter lot to faculty and Calder residents and that’s going to be an issue, especially if I have a project I need to carry.” 

Due to heavy parking traffic, parking violations on campus skyrocket. Chris Swank, manager of Parking, Transportation, and Services at GVSU, stated there were roughly 8,394 parking violations in the 2022-2023 academic year on the Allendale campus. Revenue gathered from these violations came in at $289,352. 

Roughly 15% of incoming students are student commuters. That equates to about 486 students commuting when calculated alongside Winter 2023’s 3,240 freshman class size. If those 486 students buy the current 2023-2024 parking pass, that results in GVSU receiving $233,280.  

Parking costs leave commuter students questioning if a parking pass is worth it, or if it would make more sense money-wise to live on campus.

“I definitely thought it was expensive. Definitely pricey. Definitely an ouch moment,” Carmody said. “I’d say going back from student commuter to resident is a little less (expensive). But still at the same time if I didn’t have to have my car to travel elsewhere on campus I wouldn’t, and I’d just use my bike.”

Many students utilize the campus parking system in conjunction with another form of transportation, like the LakerLine bus system, riding a bike or skateboarding to class.

Grand Rapids may not be bike friendly as other cities, however GVSU has made special allowances on campus to accommodate bike traffic. The campus features larger pathways divided into four sections: two way traffic for pedestrians and two way traffic for bicyclists. Additionally, GVSU has many bike racks outside most buildings. 

“I’d definitely say this is a very bike-friendly campus,” Carmody said. “Especially during summer, I’m gonna use my bike as much as possible.” 

More to Discover