That’s the essence of Earn-A-Bike, a new program for students, faculty and staff intended to help reduce the University of Louisville’s carbon footprint. Anyone with a valid UofL ID who is willing to do without a university parking permit for the next two years can apply for the program, said Justin Mog, assistant to the provost for sustainability initiatives.

Those who do are eligible to receive a $400 voucher toward a new bike, helmet, U-lock and other bike-related products and services, he said.

Participants can redeem the vouchers any of three bike businesses: Bike Couriers Bike Shop, which has three Louisville stores and is scheduled to open a fourth store in Cardinal Towne next month; Scheller’s Fitness & Cycling, which has two stores in Louisville, two in Lexington and one in Clarksville; and Vic’s Classic Bikes, 921 Baxter Ave.

Current permit holders will be given top priority in the program followed by former permit holders, Mog said.

“We hope this will provide another reason for folks at UofL to think outside the car,” he said.

“Besides reducing pollution, traffic congestion and parking pressures, we want to change mindsets. We want to reward people for doing the right thing, encourage them to be more active and save them money.”

UofL employees and students who can’t bike to work also are being encouraged to choose alternative transportation whenever possible, Mog added. All who show a valid university ID can ride TARC buses free anywhere in the city, he noted. People who live close to campus can walk, while those too far away to walk can carpool.

Employees and students who occasionally need a car can take part in a new car-sharing program, WeCar by Enterprise, set to begin in August. The program allows people at UofL who are 18 or older to reserve a vehicle online, access it using a membership card and return it to the same location.

Two fuel-efficient Toyota Corollas for Belknap Campus and one for the Health Sciences Center will be available for rental through the program.

Anyone interested in earning a free bike must complete an online application by 5 p.m. Aug. 24, Mog said. If selected to take part in Earn-A-Bike, they also must attend one of several one-hour bike orientation and safety sessions offered on campus in early fall.

“We plan to make this an annual program, he said.

The free bike program is an outgrowth of UofL’s Climate Action Plan, a roadmap developed in 2010 aimed at reducing the university’s greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050.

For more details or to apply for Earn-A-Bike, click here.