Sustainability Recipe: Walk and Bike

August 20, 2017

Cornell Campus Sustainability Office | Summer 2018

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 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 destination 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, inexpensive, 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.


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. for more information and for partners list on campus


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

  • The Bike Rack- 409 College Ave, Ithaca - (607) 282-1010

  • Boxy Bikes- 118 W Green St, Ithaca - (607) 216-8274

  • Cayuga Ski & Cyclery- 624 W State/MLK St, Ithaca - (607) 277-6821

  • Old Goat Gear Exchange- 320 E State/MLK St, Ithaca - (607) 319-4388

  • The Outdoor Store - 206 The Commons - (607) 273-3891

  • Swan Cycles - 226 Mt Pleasant Rd, Freeville - (607) 277-0495

  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:

  • Big Red Bikes- bike share/rental on the Cornell campus

  • Boxy Bikes- electric bike rentals next to The Commons - (607) 216-8274

  • Ithaca Bike Rental- by Stewart Park on the Waterfront Trail - (607) 273-8364 x 157

  1. Choose a route. 
    Depending on your level of comfort, you will want to choose routes that have less car traffic and slower speeds. 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

  • Ithaca Carshare- 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.

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