Students at RWU who ride bicycles to get to campus might sometimes wonder about there being a faster and safer alternative to using the road. This is an idea that criminal justice professor and avid biker, Chris Menton, has had for some time now. Having taught at the university for 20 years, Professor Menton has been biking to class for most of his career.
“I’ve been biking most of my life,” he said. “There are a lot of places you can get to on a bike. But it was during a gas shortage in the 60s that I started biking more often, and that was how I really got into it.”
During the week, Menton bikes 11 miles in a day from his home to RWU and back, and on the weekends he goes on recreational bike rides with his wife, those often being 17 miles long. He has also biked through many other cities in America and Europe.
Menton has proposed an idea for a bike path that would connect RWU to the rest of Bristol. It will start at Independence Park and go to Franklin Street, then through Buttonwood Street, Wall Street, Dewolf Avenue, Woodlawn Avenue (where a traffic light will be placed), then Griswold Avenue and finally ending at the U.S. Sails building near RWU. Safety is his top priority; using the path would be far less dangerous than riding on the road next to cars.
For this reason, he says, people who are scared of biking on the road will want to use the bike path. It will be especially safer for people who use Jump Bikes. These are rentable bikes created by the company Jump, with an electric motor powering the front tire, which enables them to move faster than normal bikes. His other reasons for proposing the bike path are reasons for which he advocates for biking in general.
Menton says that biking is less expensive than driving a car, making it a good means of transportation for those with modest incomes, and that it is a far better way of getting exercise than using a car. He is uncertain as to when exactly the path will be built, but says that it is ultimately the president of RWU’s decision and that there are students and other teachers who agree with his proposal.
While not an engineer himself, Professor Menton has had help from RWU’s School of Engineering in creating bicycles, such as the Companion Cycle, created in 2017. This cycle was a three-wheeler with a seat in the back for a pedaler, a seat in front for a passenger and an electric motor controlling the third wheel in the back.
“Not everyone can ride bikes. They want to get outside but they can’t. The passenger seat on the Companion Cycle gives them accessibility and having two seats means it can bring people together,” Menton said.
As for future work in building bicycles, Menton says that he has two three-wheelers, among many other cycles, that he hopes to have modified with help from the School of Engineering.