UWM photo by Troye Foxe.

UWM photo by Troye Foxe.

The League of American Bicyclists has named University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee a Gold Bicycle Friendly University. The top ranking comes just three years after the campus was named a bronze-level cfampus by the league.

With the announcement, UWM joins a cutting-edge group of colleges and universities across the U.S. that are transforming their campuses and the communities around them. There are now 164 Bicycle Friendly Universities in 44 states and Washington, D.C.

Kate Nelson, chief sustainability officer at UWM, called the ranking a validation of the efforts of many members of the campus to make UWM more bike-friendly.

“I was surprised that we made the jump from bronze to gold,” Nelson said. “But we won’t rest on our laurels. Right now we’re looking providing more convenient and secure parking at various ‘hubs’ on campus.”

Nelson said longer-range goals include working with students to find better access to Milwaukee’s bike trails and safer routes to Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood.

UWM’s ranking stems from the university’s efforts to encourage bicycling by making it an easy option for transportation. The campus provides amenities such as Bublr bike-share stations, commuter showers and campus bike fix-it stations. Incentives such as community bike challenges have also encouraged the campus community to bike more.

With the new ranking, the league will give UWM access to a variety of free tools and technical assistance to become even more bicycle-friendly.

“When colleges and universities invest in bicycling, great things happen,” Nelson said. “Students have a healthier way to commute, faculty and staff save money on parking, and the community has a leader at the table for city-wide bicycle advocacy.

Other universities in Wisconsin rated as bicycle-friendly are UW-Madison, with a gold rating, and several at bronze: Carroll and UW System campuses La Crosse, Eau Claire and Stout.