_fa16-nobel-bikes ("Berkeley's newest noble Spot is reserved for bikes")

Berkeley's newest noble Spot is reserved for bikes

A street sign depicting the bicycle parking

One of the highlights of a Berkeley campus tour is spotting the parking spaces reserved for Berkeley’s 10 Nobel laureates. Now there’s a brand-new “NL” parking spot, and it can be used by anyone. Anyone, that is, who commutes to campus by bicycle.

The  Nobel laureate bike parking spot, which was installed last spring, sits to the left of a cluster of bike racks outside the entrance to the Free Speech Movement Café. The sign honors Berkeley faculty who contributed to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which shared the Nobel Peace Prize with former vice president Al Gore in 2007. The Nobel was given for joint efforts by Gore and the IPCC “to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.”

Berkeley’s contributors to the IPCC research included Dan Kammen, a professor of energy and the founding director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory, whose tongue-in-cheek comment at a 2013 panel discussion on climate change at the Goldman School of Public Policy planted the idea for an NL bike spot.

“Dan joked that while Nobelists get NL parking spots, maybe [the Berkeley IPCC contributors] should at least get an NL bike rack,” said John Wilton, who was the vice chancellor for administration and finance at the time and helped organize and introduced the 2013 panel. “Dan and I thought it would be a good, lighthearted way,” he added, “of recognizing both the contribution made by Berkeley to the Nobel Prize and the virtues of cycling as a way to commute.”