Sustainability Recipe: Biking

July 3, 2023

Cornell Campus Sustainability Office | Updated Summer 2023

What practical things can we do in our daily lives to protect our living environment, save money, and contribute to good jobs for people in our community? 

We’ve done the research alongside our former partner Get Your GreenBack Tompkins, and these 13 steps in the areas of local food, building energy, waste reduction, and transportation are a great place to start. The Sustainability Life Recipes series will focus on ways to save money, go green, and learn about resources to support your journey.

Ithaca and so many destinations on Cornell's campus and in Tompkins County are accessible by foot or bike, with beautiful mobility paths, hiking trails, and natural scenery to enjoy along the way. When possible, walking and biking are enjoyable and environmentally friendly ways to get around Cornell and the Ithaca area.

Over 8,000 people in Tompkins County walk and bike to work and school every day. We were born to walk —  walking helps keep our bodies and minds healthy. While we may not have been born to bike, we do a pretty good job of it anyway. Walking and biking are healthy, cost less, emit no pollution, burn calories, and are fun!

A typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.7 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. By reducing even a few trips a week, you can have a huge impact on our regional carbon emissions, and help contribute to reducing climate change impacts by cutting out fossil fuels from your commute, errands, or other transit needs.

As of August 2020, NY State law allows the use of electric scooters and e-bikes on streets posted at 30mph or less. These e-vehicles should not be used on sidewalks.


According to the AAA, the average cost of owning a car is almost $9,000 a year, and about 60 cents per mile driven. Cars with average mileage pollute to the tune of a pound of carbon dioxide per mile. Imagine all you can save even if you switch some car trips to walking and biking.


  1. CORNELL CYCLING is a campus club that organizes group rides. Their website also has many ride recommendations.

  2. NATURE RX & Partners
    Your prescription to spend time moving, hiking, and enjoying nature for all the health benefits it provides.
    Visit for more information.


  1. Purchase a bike (or comfy shoes). 
    There are local bike shops that can help you find a bike that fits you well and suits your needs.

  1. Fix Your Bike.

    In addition to getting bikes tuned up at most of the partners listed above, you can also go to one of these local repair clinics where you can get help fixing up your bike for free. Check their hours beforehand, as these are limited.
  1. Rent a bike.

    Try one out for a day, or longer:
  1. OR Try Ithaca BikeShare

    Rent bikes scattered across Ithaca and around campus for minutes or hours at a cheaper fee:
  • Download the Ithaca BikeShare app (Apple / Google Play). 
  • Pick a plan.
    • Pay as you go: $0.20/min + unlock fee
    • Day pass: $20/day + $0.20/min (after 2 hours)
    • Annual pass: $150/year + $0.20/min (after 1 hour each day)
  • The app also includes bike locations and riders are rewarded for returning bikes to hub locations.
  1. Choose a route.

  • Depending on your level of comfort, you will want to choose routes that have less car traffic and slower speeds. 
  • Better Bike Network has collaborated to create subway-style routes around Ithaca. 
  • This biking map provides a sense of relative volumes of traffic on county roads, and this walking map provides some ideas for routes in downtown Ithaca.
  • The Cayuga Waterfront Trail provides car-free travel from Cass to Stewart Parks, going by the West End, Farmers' Market, and Northside/Fall Creek neighborhoods. 
  • Finger Lakes Cycling Club also has many useful maps.

Other resources

  • Bike Walk Tompkins - advocacy and education to change the culture and infrastructure of the Ithaca/Tompkins County area to make walking and bicycling safe, convenient, and accessible to all

  • Finger Lakes Cycling Club - group rides, camaraderie, lots of cycling knowledge and more

  • TCAT Ridership - The bus provides discounts for students, and all passes can be purchased at the Cornell Store (both on Ho Plaza and the Commons).

  • Ithaca Carshare (Currently unavailable) - can give you a car when you need one so you don't have to own it yourself. Reserve it, unlock, and drive - you pay only for time and distance; Carshare covers insurance, fuel, and maintenance.

  • Cornell RideShare - For employees that share their car ride at least three times a week, this commuter program offers discounted parking fees and other benefits.

  • Streets Alive! - Biannual open streets festival focused on walking & biking in Fall Creek and Southside neighborhoods