198523 Sustainability and transportation: Challenges of a college campus

Wednesday, November 11, 2009: 11:30 AM

Georgia N. L. J. Polacek, PhD CHES , Health Sciences, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA
As students arrive on campus for the academic year, they often bring their personal automobiles. In a community of 40, 000 that houses a university of 18,000, this increase in automobile traffic can have many health implications. To understand students' driving and parking behaviors on campus, data were collected over the 2007-08 academic year. Traffic counts were performed at major intersections to determine modes of transportation. Parking lot counts were performed to determine utilization. A parking survey was administered via the Internet to randomly selected undergraduate students (N=1120).

Traffic onto and off of campus was primarily single occupancy vehicles and three peak times were noted. Survey results revealed almost 70% of participants made multiple trips to campus on any given day and drove alone. Reasons given were primarily convenience, incompatible bus and class schedules, and time. Parking lots are not equally utilized. Students reported parking lot preference by proximity to their first classes and arrived on campus 5-10 minutes before those first classes. Safety concerns were given as reasons for not walking or cycling.

These behaviors increase the amount of auto emissions in to the air, compromising air quality, contributing to air pollution and sedentary lifestyles. The university has created a sustainability institute. Pedestrian pathways that provide safe routes for walking and cycling onto and across campus are being explored. Other measures to address the traffic and parking issues are also under consideration. Creating a culture of sustainability is the goal.

Learning Objectives:
Identify the challenges of student automobiles on a community and college campus. Describe three ways in which automobile traffic affects sustainability. Discuss potential solutions for improving sustainability.

Keywords: Environmental Health, Sustainability

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conducted the study from which the data were used, I currently serve on the accessibility of the campus Institute for Sustainability.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.