Introduction: Transportation systems vary from place to place, but the issues associated with these systems across the globe are very similar. Fuel efficiency, safety, and carbon emissions are just some of the factors that should be considered when developing new transportation systems or enacting plans. Issues associated with transportation systems are also of concern among colleges and universities. The campus population needs to be able to travel to and from, as well as throughout campus, safely.
Many campuses are seeing major shifts in their “average” student. A current “average” student works long hours, sometimes full-time, and may live off campus. With the exception of major metropolitan universities, this student likely uses a vehicle to get to and from campus, because of an ever-changing, fast-paced and full schedule. Students working long hours to pay for tuition may feel the struggle between keeping up in class and making ends meet. Such problems linked with transportation can affect retention, graduation rates, not to mention student success in general. Until campuses see a major shift in transportation policy from that which is dominated by motorized vehicles to policies that are bicyclist and pedestrian friendly (in conjunction with increased cost of fossil fuels), change is unlikely (Akar and Clifton 2009).
Sustainable transportation planning and research is limited in the peer-reviewed literature, but should be conducted on college campuses, which serve as a microcosm for society and could help change public policy and attitudes towards sustainable transportation (Balsas 2003). Campuses with a serious commitment to environmental stewardship may grapple with a large commuter population as a major problem, in terms of extensive parking needs as well as associated carbon emissions. It is in the best interest of campuses such as these to assess and balance the needs of a diverse campus population and an efficient transportation system.
Since the previous plan: After the original plan was adopted, some great initiatives related to transportation have been put in place. UW-Oshkosh pioneered the Zimride program for the UW System, allowing students a better avenue to find carpooling opportunities. The campus also maintained strong connections with the Oshkosh Transit System, and bus ridership was up over 100,000 rides during the 2011-12 academic year. In addition, a major pedestrian mall as well as other pedestrian-friendly crossings and bike lanes were constructed to provide safer routes for students, faculty and staff to get to and around campus.
(Foot traffic in front of LEED Gold certified Sage Hall)