Meet Andrea Hassler
Andrea Hassler is the Trails and Outdoors Coordinator in UCCS Campus Recreation. She has her B.S. from the University of South Carolina and her Master's of Arts in Applied Geography from UCCS. Andrea began bicycle commuting in college and has taken it more seriously over the years. As a grad at UCCS, she was co-chair of SEAS and Project Coordinator of the Green Action Fund. She currently oversees the Student Outdoor Learning Experience (S.O.L.E.) Center and the campus trail system. She helped to create the UCCS Bicycle Advisory Committee and the year-long bicycle commuter incentive program, Pedal Perks, as a result of a grant she received from Kaiser Permanente to promote active transportation in the workplace. Outside of UCCS, Andrea serves on various committees including the Trails Committee for Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates, the Superfriends Group for Trails and Open Space and the Treasurer for Pikes Peak Climber's Alliance. She is also the Chair-Elect for the Association for Outdoor Recreation and Education (AORE) Environmental Stewardship Committee, who works nationally to increase sustainable practices with member programs.
1. What sustainable practices do you partake in on a daily basis?
I try to ride my bike every day to work and for my errands. In my home, I compost, have LED light bulbs, hang some of my clothes and towels to dry, grow some food plants, keep lights off unless needed, limit my showers and water usage, and of course recycle. I also do my best to purchase local, sustainably grown and organic food from a CSA with my roommate as well as products that are manufactured locally using environmentally and socially sustainable practices. I take all of my gently used items to thrift stores and buy most of my stuff used instead of new. I also use my Klean Kanteen insulated thermos for coffee and cold drinks as well as one of my many reusable water bottles for water. Lastly, I support local non-profits by serving on various committees and donating my time and money to help others who make significant impacts on sustainability at a local and national level.
2. Tell us about the S.O.L.E. Center's Bike Share program and your involvement in the program.
Our Bike Share program was started in 2010 as a collaboration between Campus Recreation, Sustainability and Transportation. Every student gets 10 free rental days per semester to get around on or off campus. Each rental period is up to 3 days at a time and includes a bike lock and helmet. The bikes are picked up from the Campus Recreation S.O.L.E. Center which is open Monday Friday 12-6 PM during the school year. Last year we received a Green Action Fund grant to purchase 8 new bicycles for the program. We purchased 4 "Campus Cruiser" and 4 "Hybrid Commuter" bikes. I have also worked with Carole Huber from SEAS (Students for Environmental Awareness and Sustainability) on a newly Green Action Fund(ed) program, "Leave Your Car Home - Free Freshman Bike Loan Program" where 25 incoming housing students will receive a free bike rental for the entire year. Lastly, we offer bicycle education clinics, host or collaborate on several bicycle events and run the Pedal Perks commuter incentive program.
The first time I rode a bike share bike was at Bike Jam 2010 when I was a new grad student at UCCS! It was so much fun exploring the trails with fellow bike enthusiasts (Linda Kogan was there!). After graduating, I began working at S.O.L.E. in 2013 with some responsibilities of overseeing the bike share and student bike mechanics. In 2014, I assumed full responsibility of the program, and so I oversee all of our staff, training, maintenance and procedures. Last year I became a League of American Bicyclists League Certified Cycling Instructor and have used this knowledge to increase our education clinics.
3. Do you have any tips for cyclists on campus?
Eat a good breakfast, start small - think big, and every ride counts.
Eating a good breakfast is critical on your ride up to campus in the morning. I can't tell you how bad it sucks to make the bike commute to campus after skipping breakfast! Half way through I get extremely tired and my legs start screaming at me - "FEED US!!". My go to is yoghurt and granola or a fried egg (or two!). I also make sure to bring plenty of snacks as I'll get hungry throughout the day.
Starting small, thinking big is critical to becoming a habitual biker. Cycling is not "go big or go home" - you could burn out before you get into the swing of things. If you haven't been "on the saddle" in a while, maybe take a short ride to a local store, to meet up with a friend or just a leisure trip around your neighborhood so you get comfortable on your wheels again. Then try one day a week, and then two, and so on. Eventually, you'll get to a point where you are wanting to bike more and more because it feels good! Thinking big means that committing to cycling can have pretty broad implications, such as choosing where you live or carefully planning your class/work schedule. These aren't easy changes but worth considering if you want to make commuting a tangible goal. Every ride counts means that biking to campus is not an all-or-nothing. Do it when you can and make sure that it works for you so that it is truly a sustainable practice!