Town and Gown ride pedals toward change

By Noemi Orozco, May 7, 2024

Under a cloudy sky, dozens of Cal Poly Pomona students, staff and city residents checked in on Oak Lane dressed in bright-colored helmets and training shoes for the ninth annual Town and Gown bike event.

Excitement filled the cold air, and although not an ideal forecast for a 10-mile ride, attendees joined together Apr. 26 of Earth Week in support of alternative, sustainable and cost-friendly transportation options for the campus community

With a shared goal in mind, riders embarked on a journey through Pomona neighborhoods as CPP’s Bronco Pep Band played them off.

History professor John Lloyd and Gwen Urey, a professor in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, began hosting the leisure experience to encourage more biking on and around campus and to draw attention to the need for safer bike infrastructure throughout the university.

Beyond safety concerns, Lloyd works to promote equal access to inexpensive and eco-friendly commute modes as a co-chair of the Alternative Transportation Committee.

“The cost of car ownership could be really burdensome for students, and we’ll like them to have alternatives that are affordable,” Lloyd said. “Our No. 1 source of greenhouse gas emissions is our transportation and the bulk of that comes from our cars, so helping people see that it really is possible to bike to campus if you live within a several-mile radius is an important goal.”

For those who live outside a reasonable distance from campus, free and unlimited rides on Foothill Transit and Silver Streak buses are offered to currently enrolled students through the Class Pass program.

Lloyd hopes to progress his initiative by implementing convenient bike programs on campus, such as a student-run bike shop, e-bikes, bike co-ops and cycling classes.

“A lot of students don’t even know how to ride a bike,” said Lloyd. “Having these resources that don’t just teach you how to ride but also teach you how to be confident in riding is something I would love to see our campus have.”

The communal bike ride also gives the campus community an opportunity to explore Pomona, hence the name Town and Gown, referencing the campus and its historic connections to Pomona. Traditionally, the event leads attendees to Casa Primera, the oldest home in Pomona Valley, with help from Pomona’s Historical Society.

Among the riders were Chief of Staff for the Office of the President Nicole Hawkes and her daughter, who both enjoyed the sense of culture and community within the bicycle event.

“The Mariachi Los Broncos, which is a student and faculty ensemble, played at Casa Primera, so it was a little bit of a celebration when we got to our destination,” said Hawkes.

Listed as a “friend” of ATC, Hawkes is in full support of creating a more transit accessible university.

“We have a plan as part of our Campus Master Plan to build out a more robust transit mobility hub that will be a safe location for the ingress and egress of buses in one spot on the campus with amenities,” Hawkes said. “The long-term vision is a more transit-friendly entrance to campus, which I think will help to also support all of the other initiatives.”

Jarrod Palmer, a student who helps identify solutions to scooter collisions on campus, shared his experience as a participant.

“It’s important to be involved in your community to ensure that your voice is heard, that you want to see better options,” said Palmer. “The ride showed us that there was some good infrastructure but definitely a need for more.”

Feature image courtesy of Noemi Orozco

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