Kudos is owed to Furman University for opening a convenient new gateway from the GHS Swamp Rabbit Trail to their magnificent campus earlier this year.
Thanks to Google Street View we have pictures of the old entrance, which not only completely blocked trail users from seeing the campus, but was a tricky little hill that many cyclists had difficulty negotiating.
The pictures of the current gateway show a dramatic change. The writer rides the trail at least three times a week, and has observed a large number of people using the new entrance and touring the campus by bike; far more than when it was hidden from view.
Bike Walk Greenville recently caught up with Elizabeth Geer the Furman University Director of Creative Services who generously answered our questions.
What was the motivation to create the new entrance?
It was a collective idea to develop more engagement with the Greenville community. Furman does this in many ways through adult learning opportunities, student internships, hosting many charitable events, and with this new initiative, to make the campus more accessible and welcoming.
Professor Angela Halfacre recently wrote in a Greenville News commentary, Furman, community inextricably linked , that ‘Truly engaged learning requires higher education to build bridges spanning campus and community, and to offer experiences that promote active citizenship,”
With the huge traffic on the GHS Swamp Rabbit Trail, including many people from out of town, it makes perfect sense to show off our campus, which is consistently recognized as one of the most beautiful college campuses in the country.
How did the project go from idea to reality?
A meeting with Jeff Redderson, the Assistant VP for Facilities, started the process. The Creative Services department developed the design and Facilities handled the budget and construction. The project was ultimately signed off by President Elizabeth Davis.
There is a lot more to come, including bike racks and a bike repair stand. Additional signage will better inform the community about Furman, including the schedule of athletic events, and where to go on campus for Tupelo Honey at The Paddock, Starbucks, Moe’s, and Chick-Fil-A, which are open to the public but need more publicity. We plan to have this completed in November.
This rendering is of the signage. The life-sized Paladin is going to be too cool and a great place for photos and selfies. Note that the rendering isn’t to scale and may change slightly, but it will give your readers a good indication of what signage and information is to come.
What has been the reaction from the students? Are they using the SRT more as a result of the new gateway?
We have not done a survey of the students, so I only know anecdotally that the trail is very well used by our students for exercise. It is a short 3-mile ride on the trail to all the attractions in Travelers Rest, and I am sure that more students will take advantage of the better bike connectivity. We at Furman have watched the great economic impact the trail has had on Travelers Rest.
The advocates at Bike Walk Greenville congratulate Furman for creating this gateway. Riding a bike on the SRT and than through the campus is wonderful experience for all!
Note: This post was published by The Greenville News as an Opinion piece on 25 October 2016. Unfortunately they could not publish the before and after photos.