Chemistry Professors Promote Cycling and Transit, On and Off Campus

  • Chemistry faculty, Kayla and Mike Kaiser run BikeCar101, promoting the use of Bikes and Metrolink as an alternative use for transportation. Photo by: David J. Hawkins.

  • Mike and Kayla Kaiser, chemistry faculty standing in front of the CSUN Transit Bus. Photo by David J. Hawkins.

Avid cyclists Kayla and Mike Kaiser have been married for 10 years and share a passion for health and public service, which inspired their nonprofit organization, BikeCar101.

As professors at California State University, Northridge in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, the pair promote travel by train and bicycle to increase environmental sustainability and public health. The couple has been commuting to campus via Metrolink and bikes since 2013.

Over the past few years, the Kaisers have seen a growing interest in public transit and healthier commutes among CSUN students, professors and others in the workforce, they said. According to metro.net‘s active mode of transportation page, they state that, “Active transportation improves public health by providing more opportunities for physical activity and safe places to walk, bike or travel by other human-powered means improves access to transit and provides more travel choices.”

“We were on the same [Metrolink] line with other professionals, and we’d start bringing our bikes on there,” Mike said. “They saw us bringing our bikes [to campus to ride together], and they started to bring theirs.”

He also pointed out that students are the biggest advocates for sustainability and alternative modes of transportation.

“Ultimately, students have the greatest voice in change with respect to where the university heads toward sustainability,” Mike said. “That’s powerful. I can’t overstate that.”

The nonprofit BikeCar101 promotes using alternative forms of transportation, such as traveling by train and biking to destinations. The Kaisers hope to lobby the Metrolink Board to add additional Metrolink Bike Cars with more bicycle stalls for greater bicycle storage. In the future, the Kaisers hope to expand their lobbying efforts toward the Metro Transit Agency to follow Metrolink’s Board initiative and provide a dedicated ‘Bike Car’ to each Metro light rail train. Similar to what Amtrak does with its Surfliner line.

“We rode the train with a group of about five commuters with bicycles, and there was only enough room for three bicycles,” Kayla said. “The conductor started to give us a hard time [because we had] too many bicycles, so I said, ‘We’ve got to petition the transit agencies for more space.'”

BikeCar101 uses the 3T Program to educate those who need help riding Metrolink and need help mapping their destination. According to BikeCar101’s website, the 3T program is about educating the public about bringing bicycles on board Metro rail and Metrolink trains to encourage them to engage in future active transportation. The nonprofit’s 3T Program provides the three “Ts” a t-shirt with BikeCar101’s logo, a train ticket to the transporter’s destination, and that the transporter provides a testimonial for their website. ​The user does not have to pay for their ticket, all the nonprofit hopes is that they educate someone else from this program.

The pair is determined to promote carbon-neutral travel and use secondary forms of transportation to get around town.

​”We wanted to improve the environment, live in a more sustainable fashion,” Mike said. “[Incorporating] a bicycle into our commute with a train relieves the stress of driving. It’s amazing what a stress reduction it is when you don’t have to drive, and you get your workout through a bicycle.”

Riding the train also helps the community interact, Kayla added.

“Rather than being stuck in a car, or by yourself, you can chat, catch up, meet new people, talk about current events or what you’re doing this weekend,” Kayla said. “It makes for a nice community, [and] it’s a lot more friendly and relaxing.”

For more information about BikeCar101, please visit their website at https://sites.google.com/site/bikecar101test/. 

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