Academic journal article Planning for Higher Education

Pedestrian Planning on College Campuses

Academic journal article Planning for Higher Education

Pedestrian Planning on College Campuses

Article excerpt


College campuses provide a unique environment in which to promote pedestrian travel. The high density and mix of uses provide the foundation for a sizable pedestrian mode share, especially given that students and staff often live on campus. Further, many colleges and universities have taken active measures to reduce vehicle travel through such means as car ownership restrictions, parking charges, and subsidized transit (Toor and Havlick 2004).

On many campuses, the high density of use and heavily peaked flows at class change times make walking and bicycling the most feasible modes of travel, especially for intracampus trips. Many research studies and best practice guides have sought to identify ways to promote cycling (Rybarczyk and Gallagher 2014) and transit (Brown, Hess, and Shoup 2001), analyze university parking policies (Barata, Cruz, and Ferreira 2011; Millard-Ball, Siegman, and Tumlin 2004), model mode choice (Eluru, Chakour, and El-Geneidy 2012), and evaluate transportation demand management programs (Riggs 2015).

By contrast, there is a conspicuous lack of research regarding pedestrian planning on campus. The efficiency of this mode depends on many things, including the infrastructure of sidewalks and paths, wayfinding elements, and modal conflict with motor vehicles and bicycles. Yet, unlike cycling, transit, and driving, there is little guidance available to planners who seek to improve the attractiveness and safety of walking on their campus. Even research on non-motorized transportation tends to focus on bicycling (Rybarczyk and Gallagher 2014), and the same bicycle-centric view is found in most campus non-motorized and active transportation plans.

This article attempts to fill the gap in the research through case studies of pedestrian infrastructure and planning on 18 college campuses in North America. We highlight common approaches and innovative practices that are likely to have much wider relevance. Rather than offering technical guidance on pedestrian facility or roadway design, which is well covered in a range of standard engineering and design manuals, we provide a selective tour through planning practices that will be of use to practitioners working in campus settings.


A considerable amount of work analyzes transportation on college and university campuses. One key text is Toor and Havlick's (2004) Transportation and Sustainable Campus Communities, which analyzes parking, transit, bicycling, and walking strategies to reduce single-occupant vehicle travel and frames college campuses as the perfect setting in which to promote alternatives to the private car. A particular focus is on the economics of parking and how investment in alternatives to driving can be cheaper than expanding parking supply. A similar general focus on sustainable transportation planning on college campuses is provided by Balsas (2003), who describes the transportation demand management strategies of eight campuses attempting to reduce congestion and parking demand. Car reduction strategies are employed by many campuses to promote sustainable transportation, but these measures do not always translate into better pedestrian conditions. As noted previously there is also a modal-specific literature on campus bicycling, transit, and transportation demand management (e.g., Akar, Fischer, and Namgung 2013; Whannell, Whannell, and White 2012). In parallel with the campus transportation planning literature, a substantial body of non-campus-specific research addresses walking as a mode of transport, particularly the factors that affect pedestrian mode share and encourage more people to walk. Some of the most important conclusions that emerge from this research relate to how characteristics of the built environment, such as density, mixed uses, and urban design characteristics, affect pedestrian mode share. For example, Handy, Cao, and Mokhtarian (2006) find that traditional neighborhoods characterized by tree-lined streets, closer destinations, and greater accessibility, attractiveness, and sociability have more trips by foot. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.