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Transportation sustainability on a university campus

David H. Kaplan (Geography Department, Kent State University, Kent, OH, USA)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Article publication date: 2 March 2015




This paper aims to show the present level of sustainable transportation, mainly walking and bicycling, on a large campus in the US Midwest and then analyzes some of the opportunities and impediments in increasing the modal share.


Three types of analysis are used. First, current level of walking and bicycling around the campus are measured during select mornings and afternoons. Second, a survey questionnaire completed by 668 students is tabulated and reported. Third, the campus and environs are inventoried to note those aspects of infrastructure which either facilitate or block walking or cycling.


This paper records generally low existing levels of sustainable transportation among students around a campus. There is a particularly low level of bicycling activity. Reasons have to do with time and convenience (especially among students who work), but also that many students do not enjoy bicycle access. Finally, student attitudes and an inventory of campus indicate that existing infrastructure discourages sustainable transportation activity around campus.

Research limitations/implications

This may be biased towards specific circumstances in the one institution we studied. However, there are several important implications on the factors spurring or impeding walking and bicycling which may be applied to other campus communities.

Practical implications

Understanding the campus impediments to walking and bicycling may help universities design more attractive and useful facilities.

Social implications

Great attention to bicycling and walking can improve the social environment on campus, as well as spur greater health among students and staff.


Several methods of measuring existing transportation patterns are applied, canvassing student attitudes towards sustainable transportation and then inventorying and mapping those campus features which could affect walking and bicycling activity.



Support from the Ohio Transportation Consortium, who underwrote the costs of this research, is gratefully acknowledged.


Kaplan, D.H. (2015), "Transportation sustainability on a university campus", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 16 No. 2, pp. 173-186.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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