LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A University of Louisville program that encourages students, faculty and staff to ride a bike to campus instead of driving is gaining in popularity.

The Earn-A-Bike Program, created in 2012, provides participants with a $400 voucher they can use toward the purchase of a bicycle, helmet, lock and other equipment, the Courier-Journal reported (http://cjky.it/2bRiC48).

There were 1,550 participants in the program’s first four years, said Assistant to the Provost for Sustainability Initiatives Justin Mog. The school is expecting another 380 participants this year.

Before picking up their bike vouchers, participants must take a mandatory 60-minute bicycle safety class on campus. The class teaches how to ride with the flow of traffic and offers practical advice for commuting, among other safety concepts.

The program is now being copied by other campuses nationwide, including the University of Kentucky.

“We love it when other schools ‘steal’ ideas like this from us,” Mog said, “but we also encourage them to think about what kind of program would work best in their own community.”

Earn-A-Bike has also received recognition. In October 2014, the university won the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education Award for Best Case Study from a four-year or graduate institution with more than 10,000 full-time students for its Earn-A-Bike Program.

The program costs about $160,000 per year. Its funding comes from U of L’s base budget, and is the largest line-item in the school’s $182,000 per-year Climate Action Plan.

Information from: The Courier-Journal, http://www.courier-journal.com