Clark adopts student’s ‘Big Idea,’ institutes University Bike Patrol

University Police Sgt. Michael Palermo is one of two officers comprising the University Bike Patrol.

Two Clark police officers have begun patrolling the campus differently and sustainably—on new mountain bikes—thanks to an idea proposed by recent graduate Daniel Snyder, and funded by a University contest.

Last Fall, Snyder took his passion for cycling and applied it to concerns about campus safety and environmental sustainability at Clark.  He submitted his idea for a University Bike Patrol to the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program’s U-Reka: Big Idea Contest.  His project came in third place, awarding him $1,000 in prize money.  The funds enabled the University Police Department to outfit one officer with a patrol bike and uniform.  In a further demonstration of support, the Police Department purchased a second bike and patrol uniform for a second officer.  Currently, Officer Bishoy Ibrahim and Sergeant Michael Palermo make up The University Bike Patrol, which launched on May 20.

“Enhancing safety and environmental issues simultaneously is a win-win for both students and the University,” said University Police Chief Stephen Goulet.

Snyder said the Clark campus is compact and ideally suited for bicycle riding.  He was excited that he was able to contribute and give back to the Clark community in his favorite way, with bikes.

“It adds to the efforts started by Clark’s bike share program, which aims to create a campus that supports sustainable transportation,” he said.

Snyder worked with Officer Ibrahim to research and create the University Bike Patrol unit.

“The University Police exceeded my expectations by purchasing an additional bike,” said Snyder.  “From the beginning, one of my goals for the bike patrol was to institutionalize it. The University Police’s support makes me confident that they will continue this program.”

The bike patrol will provide the University Police Department with a secondary patrol presence on-campus, not restricted to campus streets.  Additional benefits of a bike patrol include increased safety and officer visibility among students, and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions by patrolling less with sports utility vehicles.  The officers will track their patrol hours to help determine their impact on Clark’s safety and sustainability efforts.

“We are very proud of Dan’s work,” said Amy A. Whitney, associate director of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program. “His work is a reflection of his passion for bikes and making Clark a safer and greener campus.”

The U-Reka: Big Idea Contest is held annually.  It is open to any undergraduate student with an idea about how to improve or change something within campus or the Clark community. A $5,000 award is split among first, second and third place finalists to support the launch of their ideas.  This year, the top prize went to students who proposed Clark turn one of the rooftops of an existing campus building “green;” the second place prize went to students who proposed an after-school program, “Play it Forward.”

The winners of last year’s U-Reka contest received funding to start The Clark Community Thrift Store, which has been operating at 945 Main Street in a University-owned storefront across from the campus main gate since August 2010.