Thursday, July 15, 2010

Perception of Bike Safety and Infrastructure Needs

PI: David Good Co-PI: Diane Henshel                                                                               
Master's students: Yonghua Zou, Zeynep Altinay, Max Jie Cui and Courtney Bonney  
IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs Sustainability Research Development Grant                              

  • The transportation sector in the US is a major contributor to carbon emissions (about 30%), and a major user of non-sustainable petroleum-based fuel (about 70%).  Thus altering transportation modes when possible can make a large contribution to decreasing use of non-sustainable resources and can also decrease the net emission of toxic pollutants into local air.
  • At Indiana University transportation plays a critical role in increasing campus sustainability.  The Steinhoff-Harpring report of August 2008 indicated that about 44% of the campus population overall commutes to work or classes in single occupancy vehicles (Steinhoff and Harpring, 2008).  Of these, the largest single vehicle modal split was for faculty and staff (~ 80%), while only about ¼ of the students commute in single occupancy vehicles.  Steinhoff and Harpring compared this modal split to the results of a similar survey done in 1998, which indicated that just under 25% of the students then commuted by single occupancy vehicles, indicating that (at least among students) there has been little change in the past decade.
  • Several organizations at IU have committed to increasing campus sustainability at the transportation level, including the Indiana University Task Force on Campus Sustainability. In January 2008, the Task Force issued the Campus Sustainability Report proposing the use of a series of specific metrics to track transportation-related sustainable practices.  The Transportation Working Group proposed five specific recommendations to decrease single vehicle occupancy rates, including supporting alternative transportation options, developing policies that improve pedestrian, bicycle, bus choice, and developing parking policies to reduce single-occupancy vehicle travel (Indiana University Task Force, 2008).  Increasing bicycling as a commuting mode was cited as one future goal for increasing sustainable transportation for the Indiana University Bloomington campus.  In the Steinhoff-Harpring survey, students, faculty and staff  uniformly cited that the biggest impediment to cycling to campus was the lack of safe routes to campus (almost 50% for students and above 70% for faculty and staff;  Steinhoff and Harpring, 2008).  
Specific Aims
  • As bicycle commuting can play a major role in reducing non-sustainable transportation practices among commuters, the focus of this project has been to predominantly examine and evaluate bicycle friendly commuting routes and attitudes about the road and safety features that might be used on bicycle friendly commuting routes.  The Specific Aims of the 2009 – 2010 Sustainable Transportation Project are:
1) Produce a set of standard metrics for future alternative transportation initiatives identifying the factors influencing and influenced by bicycle use.

2) Develop a set of predictive models that will enable the campus, county, and city planning groups to improve future bicycle-focused transportation projects and conduct a risk assessment to identify the change in health risks associated with implementing more bicycle-friendly commuting routes.

3)Provide fundamental data on attitudes about bicycle commuting following up on the 2008 Steinhoff-Harpring survey which will further study in the field of alternative transportation.

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