When Brandon Isenberger chose to ride down some stairs on his bike, he wasn't anticipating a fall – but fall he did. With the combined height of the stairs and his bike, it was more than a fall. It was a plummeting plunge from a bird's-eye-view of approximately eight feet.
Isenberger, junior civil engineering major, opts to travel around campus on a customized tall bike. Tall bikes are only one of the multitudes of ways students choose to commute through campus.
Via wheel or foot, students agree the best on-campus modes of transportation require versatility, convenience, speed and originality. Students choose their manner of movement according to these variables and, for most the choice is not a difficult one.
"It seems like so often we see customized motorcycles and cars," Isenberger said. "It's kind of fun to customize your own bike, and it's cheap."
Ben Wertsch, junior history major, is the primary creative mind responsible for the only four reengineered tall bikes on campus. After discovering tall bikes in Chicago, he returned and built his own, spreading the knowledge to three other students who created their own as well.
The four chose tall bikes over other transportation modes not only because of their value as a quick, easy way to get around campus, but because "it's a totally different experience – you have a bird's eye view on life," said Taylor Nixon, junior mechanical engineering major.
The tall bikes are welded or bolted together from components of old recycled bikes. A completed tall bike works similar to a regular bike, except the seat sits approximately five feet off the ground.
"The cool thing about these bikes is they're unique and they're fun," said Stephen Goebel, junior mechanical engineering major. "That's the bottom line – you get smiles and just have a good time."
In the more traditional sense, many students choose cycling on a regular-sized mountain, street or cruiser bike to get around campus. Students highlighted biking as advantageous due to its speed, accessibility and thriftiness.
"It's convenient, you're not very late to class, it's cheaper and it's better for the environment," said Rachael Browning, sophomore art major. "All in all, (biking) works pretty well."
Contrasting with the two-wheel convention, Chris Holland, freshman mechanical engineering major, chose traveling via unicycle as the optimal way to get around campus. Usable in all types of weather, easy to manipulate through crowds and almost as fast as a bike, Holland said his unicycle not only beats his former modes of transportation, walking and biking, but it is a representation of himself.
"It's just kind of crazy and different and fun, and that's kind of how I am – just crazy and unique and fun," Holland said. "More people should unicycle because once they get into it a whole new world will open up. …We need more unicyclists in the community."
Taking it back to children's play toys, Andrew Angely, sophomore economics major, travels on a scooter, combining foot and wheel power.
"I have no regrets (about buying a scooter)," Angely said. "It's just the coolest thing ever. It's just taking it back, being a kid all over again. Riding a scooter allows you to be young and have fun and it's still just as fast (as a bike)."
The other merging of foot and wheel power for transportation comes in the forms of skateboards, long boards and roller blades. Students said they enjoy the versatility, maneuverable agility and portability found in boards and roller blades, making them the best ways to get around campus.
"I like my long board because walking is too slow and biking is too tedious because you have to lock and unlock it and there's all those rules – I'd for sure get a ticket," said Ned Davis, freshman open option major. "It's fast, easy and it's enjoyable."
A major disadvantage for most boarders and roller bladers is they are weather-sensitive modes of transportation; thus, they can't be used when the ground is wet.
Whether cyclists or wheel pushers, students recognized their chosen on-campus mode of transportation as not only an important decision of the day, but as a decision reflective of their own personalities and character.
"Express yourself," Wertsch said. "All these other bikes are the same – they're just regular bikes. … We're larger than life."
Question: "If you could travel around campus in any way, what would it be?"
"Go-karts would be cool because it's faster and you have to exert less energy, but it's still pretty fun. Plus, it's not too big and you could have races and stuff." – Andrew Angely, sophomore economics major
"Parasailing, or a pogo stick would be fun – tiring, but fun." – Taylor Nixon, junior mechanical engineering major
"I'd do the 'Back to the Future' floating skateboard because you can go over water on that sucker and there's no friction. You can't lose, he did some cool stuff." – Stephen Goebel, junior mechanical engineering major
"A magic carpet because wouldn't it be cool to have a magic carpet." – Hank Haggerty, senior psychology
"If there was a campus shuttle, it'd be convenient, fast and easy." – Jennifer Nelson, freshman interior design
"I would fly because who wouldn't want to fly." – Ned Davis, freshman open option
"A moving sidewalk. It would get me from class to class as quickly as possible without exerting any energy, and it seems like it wouldn't be so congested." – Rachael Browning, sophomore art
"A helicopter. I've always had a love for helicopters." – Brandon Isenberger, junior civil engineering
"I suppose a jet pack would be nice. You could crash through windows and stuff." – Ben Wertsch, junior history