Bowdoin to Ban Cars for First-Year Students in 2009

Story posted August 05, 2008

First-year students at Bowdoin have one more year to park their cars on campus. Beginning with the fall semester in 2009, first-year students will not be permitted to have a car at Bowdoin. The move is part of the College's ongoing efforts to promote sustainability and environmental responsibility. It is also intended to foster an even greater sense of community and involvement by first-year students during the very important first year of college.

"Having a car at Bowdoin is mostly a luxury, and hardly ever a necessity," said President Barry Mills. "As we investigate steps the College can take to move responsibly and effectively to improve the environment and to serve as a role model for sustainability practices, the elimination of first-year cars just makes a whole lot of sense."

College officials also believe that the elimination of cars will create a common experience for first-year students at a time when socioeconomic diversity continues to expand at Bowdoin. Currently, approximately one in five first-year students arrives at Bowdoin with a car, adding nearly 100 cars to the campus and downtown streets, and creating one relatively small group of new students with opportunities not shared by their classmates.

Beginning next year, the entire first-year class will join approximately 50 percent of their fellow Bowdoin students without cars who take advantage of a growing list of alternatives for their transportation needs. These include a campus that encourages bicycle use and provides adequate bicycle storage in most residence halls; the Yellow Bike Club that grants its members access to any of the Yellow Bikes available across campus; a new Bowdoin Shuttle providing round-trip, on-demand rides into Brunswick from various campus locations, seven nights a week; and two new Zipcars available for use 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by students, faculty, staff and community members who become Zipcar members.

The center of downtown Brunswick is located less than a half-mile from the heart of campus, a 10-12 minute walk for most people. For those wishing to travel farther afield, Bowdoin Student Government sponsors weekend shuttle service to Freeport and Portland, and to Portland's airport and bus/train stations during breaks. The College also maintains a ride share board for students. Public transportation options include bus service to Portland, Boston and Logan Airport, and Amtrak train service from Portland to Boston. Amtrak service directly into Brunswick is scheduled to begin in 2010.

"All first-year students are required to live on campus, and Bowdoin is fortunate to be located within easy walking or biking distance of downtown," said Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster. "Students get along just fine without a car on campus, even in the winter months. With expanded alternative transportation methods in place now and others planned for the coming year, we believe first-year student transportation needs can be met quite adequately as we reduce the environmental impact, parking difficulties, and congestion caused by additional cars."

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