Whitman’s Bike Share
Established in the spring of 2012 by Campus Climate Challenge, Whitman’s Bike Share Pilot Program allows students to check out a bike to do errands, get some exercise, or take a leisurely ride in the wheat fields. Currently, there are 9 different bikes available, all of which were abandoned on campus and refurbished by Whitman’s bike shop. Students check out the bikes for a 24-hour period from the Penrose Library circulation desk 24 hours a day. It works a lot like a book, except with gears! Helmets and lights are also available for checkout; we want people to be safe while they're having a blast.
Funding for the bike purchases was provided by the Outdoor Environmental Leadership Fund, and thanks also go to the Whitman Outdoor Program, Penrose Library, and Whitman Security for their help with the Bike Share Program. In the coming years, we hope to increase the number of bikes available for checkout and allow check out for longer periods of time. Ultimately, we hope that Whitman’s Bike Share Program gets students out of their cars and into the community to reduce environmental impact, but also bolster the local economy. Bicyclists reinvest more into local businesses than drivers because of the speed of travel, ease of parking (usually), and generally reduced barriers to interact.
Walla Walla Valley Transit Bus System
“If you go shopping in Walla Walla and spend $10 on clothes, 3 cents of the tax you pay will go towards the Valley Transit System. That may not sound like much, but sales tax makes up 65% of the transit system’s budget–and due to the recession, those tax revenues have decreased dramatically” (Rachel Alexander, Editor-in-Chief, The Pioneer, 2012-2013).
The local Valley Transit bus service was founded in 1979, when the Walla Walla County Commissioners created the Walla Walla County Public Transportation Benefit Area. The system began route service on January 5, 1981.
Fixed-route service is provided throughout the Walla Walla and College Place urban area, with the fare costing 50 cents per trip. Seven routes meet at a centrally located transfer center in downtown Walla Walla. Eighty percent of the homes within the Walla Walla and College Place city limits are within three blocks of a Valley Transit bus route. Whitman College is served by Route 4, with stops located conveniently just off campus. This is another eco-friendly option to help you get around town, especially in inclement weather or to destinations further away.
Voters residing within the Transit District approved Proposition 1 on February 9, 2010 to increase the sales tax dedicated to public transportation by an additional 3/10ths of one percent with over 76 percent voting in favor of the measure. Valley Transit avoided a 50 percent cut in services over the next year that would have eliminated at least two bus lines and reduced frequencies on others. A 0.03 percent sales tax increase has kept the system running.
Many Whitman students were involved with the Campaign for Valley Transit. Whitman graduate Pedro Galvao ‘10 used the campaign continue outreach efforts to Latino voters. He recruited other Whitman students, most of whom are members of Club Latino, to ring doorbells in primarily Latino neighborhoods.
Whitman College Commuting Climate Impacts
The Walla Walla community and Whitman’s small campus lends them to friendly to bicycle and pedestrian commuting. Faculty and staff are always encouraged to carpool and ride bikes into work. The Greenhouse Gas Audit for the 2011 Fiscal Year provides us with statistics about commuting in Walla Walla.
While two thirds of students live on campus and the majority of off-campus housing is within one mile of campus, students drive over 2,000 miles getting to and from school each year, not to mention trips home over breaks.
Options for getting to and from Walla Walla include Grape Line service to Pasco for connections to Amtrak and Greyhound, and the Whitman Express shuttle service on college breaks. Walla Walla Airport is served by Horizon, with flights twice a day, but flying is the environmentally least preferable travel choice, especially given that the only destination from Walla Walla is Seattle, meaning any other destination requires at least one layover. Takeoff is the most energy intensive part of flying, so the most direct trip is best.
We urge you to evaluate your need for a car objectively. It may be convenient, but it is also an expense to you or your family and our environment. With bike sharing and a cheap transit system in town, Walla Walla does not necessitate a car. If you have any questions about getting around in Walla Walla without a car, ask Tristan Sewell, Campus Sustainability Coordinator.