268988 Trends in bicycling for transportation at an urban university

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

John Steward, MPH , Institute of Public Health, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA
Marian Maddox , Institute of Public Health, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA
Lindsey Martin Webb, MPH , Institute of Public Health, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA
Our urban university has experienced significant growth in student population. In university towns in the United States, previous research has found that over 10percent of students bicycle for transportation for commuting, compared to about 1 percent of persons who commute by bicycle in cities. The presence of a large university population downtown provides a unique opportunity to influence the community-at-large toward increasing bicycling as a means of transportation. Our team conducted a project with the following objectives: (1) to examine university community members' attitudes toward and knowledge about bicycling, policy, and environmental supports, (2) to develop efforts to address barriers identified, and (3) to promote safe and effective bicycling. In Fall 2009 (at program start) and again in Fall 2011, we conducted a survey of students in classrooms to determine perceptions and behaviors regarding bicycling. The survey included questions about health status, age, gender, distance, comfort, aesthetics, availability of public transit and the perception of safety. We also conducted observational surveys of bicyclists on city streets in the university sector of the city. The program consisted of improving bicycling facilities, increasing awareness, establishing bicycle sharing, and developing a coalition to promote bicycling. For evaluation, we compared the percent of students who bicycled at least once as a means of transportation to campus during the fall 2009 semester with those bicycling in the fall 2011 semester. We found that bicycling on campus increased significantly over the program period. Our survey results showed that the greatest obstacles to bicycling appear to be distance, aesthetics, lack of knowledge, lack of support and facilities, and negative perceptions of crime and road safety. Increasing the share of transportation by bicycling around campus is feasible with improved facilities, increased support, and increased knowledge about bicycling and will result in multiple benefits to health and environment.

Learning Areas:
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Environmental health sciences
Public health or related education
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Identify the behaviors, perception, health status, and knowledge of students associated with bicycling to, from, and around an urban, downtown university campus. Compare bicycling use between 2009 and 2011 at an urban, downtown university campus. Describe efforts to promote bicycling at an urban, downtown college campus.

Keywords: Environment, College Students

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have experience in teaching, conducting research, and managing programs related to built environment, public health, injury prevention, and health promotion. I was principal investigator on a USEPA funded project to investigate ways to increase bicycling for transportation at Georgia State University. I am a bicyclist myself and commute regularly between campus and home.
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.