Slug Bike Life builds on bike culture through county-wide partnership

UC Santa Cruz’s Slug Bike Life has been awarded $712,000 for phase II of the bike safety, information and encouragement program. 

"We're a bike-friendly campus where we encourage people to bike, and it's integrated into the DNA of the campus," said Transportation & Parking Services Associate Director Jonathan Weidman. "We want people to feel comfortable on bikes and keep other road users safe." 

Slug Bike Life, part of Transportation and Parking Services (TAPS), provides tools riders can use for a lifetime through free bike events on Zoom and in person. More than 1,400 people have participated in Slug Bike Life events since the program started in fall 2020. Workshops include Urban Cycling + Bike Safety, Bike Commuting 101, and Intro to e-Bikes. They also offer e-Bike demonstrations so community members can try out electric bikes before buying one, free bike mechanic checks and repairs, free light and helmet distributions, and quarterly group rides around campus. 

Phase II will focus on growing an inclusive campus bike community that welcomes everyone from those learning to ride for the first time to experienced bike enthusiasts. “One of the things we noticed in phase one was that while we aimed to be inclusive and welcomed everybody into Slug Bike Life, we didn't have a lot of intentionality around it,” said Weidman. “So, in phase II we want to work on building partnerships, working with our Educational Opportunity Programs (EOP) staff and students, Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) Initiative staff and resource centers, meeting people where they are with biking, from an educational perspective and also a cultural perspective.”

To do that, dedicated student leaders called outreach ambassadors are being added to the staff to support peer-to-peer outreach. Their work will focus on keeping the campus informed through online and social media marketing materials; engaging with campus partners including residential assistants, College Student Life staff, EOP and more; sharing information about local and state e-Bike rebate programs; and facilitating feedback sessions and focus groups about barriers to biking on campus with underrepresented campus affiliates. 

Slug Bike Life also hopes to increase the use of the Great Meadow Bike Path that runs from Ranch View Road to the Music Center to 1,200 daily bike commuters.  

The award is part of the $115.8 million in grant funding the California Transportation Commission (CTC) approved through the Active Transportation Program for six current transportation projects in Santa Cruz County, including nearly seven miles of the Coastal Rail Trail through the heart of Santa Cruz County. TAPS hopes that through the additional funding, more students, staff and faculty will join UCSC’s biking community. 

Starting later this year, community members will also be able to utilize e-Bikes through the Regional Electric Bike Share Program, a partnership between UCSC, the County of Santa Cruz, Cabrillo College, and the cities of Santa Cruz, Capitola and Watsonville. Initially, approximately 400 BCycle e-Bikes and 800 docks will be available throughout the City of Santa Cruz and UCSC. There will be more than 20 docking locations across the residential campus, Westside Research Park, and the Coastal Science Campus, and in 2024, bike share will expand to Capitola, Cabrillo College, and Watsonville. “If you live outside of biking distance from campus, and you work at UCSC you can use bike share to move around campus or between campuses,” Weidman explained. “You can also commute with it from the city or from mid-county.” 

Current UCSC community members will be able to sign up for special affiliate rental rates through an annual Bike Share membership.

To get in touch with Slug Bike Life send an email to Sign up for email updates at and Slugs on the Move, a TAPS monthly newsletter, including announcements about affiliate bike share discount rates.