Academic journal article Planning for Higher Education

Developing a Next-Generation Campus Bike-Share Program: Examining Demand and Supply Factors

Academic journal article Planning for Higher Education

Developing a Next-Generation Campus Bike-Share Program: Examining Demand and Supply Factors

Article excerpt

OVER THE PAST SEVERAL YEARS, U.S. colleges and universities have tried to become greener and more sustainable while also reducing traffic and parking congestion on and around campus. Transportation planning is probably the single best way to accomplish both goals. Specifically this involves a shift away from single-occupancy automobiles and toward buses, pedestrians, and bikes. While nobody expects Americans to abandon their dependence on cars, even a slight nudge in a more sustainable direction can provide significant benefits. It can lead to less traffic congestion, especially at peak driving times between classes (Kaplan and Clapper 2007). It can prevent campus green space from turning into parking space (Litman 2015). And it can improve health and fitness for students, staff, and faculty alike (Dill 2009).

While "sustainable" transportation modes include buses, bikes, and pedestrians, each mode is quite distinct. Buses are popular on many campuses, often operated in conjunction with a regional transportation authority. If provided with sufficient resources, they can offer the connectivity and flexibility needed to ferry people across large campuses and between residences and campus buildings. But bus systems are often perceived as slow and less reliable, with long intervals between scheduled stops. Walking is a time-honored method of getting around that most people can easily access. Walking requires no equipment, although it is made much easier by an infrastructure of pathways, wider sidewalks, and crosswalks. But walking can take a bit of time and may be less practical when distances covered are over a mile or so. Bicycling offers tremendous mobility while also being environmentally friendly; it costs less in parking and roadway infrastructure and introduces exercise into people's daily lives. As with walking, there are elements of infrastructure and basic safety that can help bicyclists feel more secure and keep them from intruding on pedestrians. Also, bicycling requires some basic equipment that students may not have available. Good bikes are costly, especially on a student budget, and they can be easily stolen without proper locks. The solution can be to make bikes available to all university stakeholders for either a nominal fee or no fee at all--catalyzing a bike culture that can enhance campus sustainability. This is the promise of a robust bike-share program. In this article, we discuss the issues related to bike-share programs, the scope of and difference between programs that have been introduced at universities, the potential demand for bike share at a large midwestern university, and the steps this university has undertaken to introduce and improve a bike-share system that will meet existing demand and spur greater use.

BENEFITS OF AND CHANGES IN BIKE-SHARE PROGRAMS

Bicycling for commuting purposes is done by relatively few individuals in the United States (U.S. Census Bureau 2015). While there are some factors that are difficult to control, studies demonstrate that transportation policies affect the use of bikes (Rietveld and Daniel 2004). Unfortunately past decisions shaped environments that were downright hostile to bicycling, creating real and perceived dangers that discouraged many would-be bike commuters. To counter this, Pucher, Dill, and Handy's (2010) research describes how to increase the share of bicycling: build bike lanes and paths, foster higher levels of safety through traffic calming, offer more storage facilities for bikes, and provide other items proven to increase the modal share of bicycling in a number of cities. These policies can all be effective, but they require that individuals have bikes to ride in the first place. Since we suspect that many people, including many young adults, do not have access to working bikes, one of the most effective policies is one that provides increased access. Programs that put more bikes on the streets also work to increase awareness and make bicycling safer for all (Jacobsen 2003). …

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