Linking Sustainable Transportation in a University Community: Final Report
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Linking Sustainable Transportation in a University Community: Final Report

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      This past year we embarked on a study of sustainable transportation options, attitudes, and behaviors in the city of Kent, Ohio, particularly in the downtown area and in the area that linked the community to Kent State University. We wanted to assess whatever obstacles and enhancements affect movement by bicycle and foot, the role of community attitudes, and whether these are amenable to greater investments in sustainable transportation facilities and infrastructure. Sustainability has emerged as an important aspect of designing university campuses (Balsas 2003; Norton et al. 2007; Toor and Havlick 2004). In 2007, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland's administration called for more energy efficient university settings (State of Ohio 2007). The document produced by the Northeast Ohio Research Consortium entitled Taking Steps Toward Sustainability: Higher Education in Northeast Ohio (2004) argued that higher education institutions must assume a leadership role in creating a sustainable future for the communities in which they reside. It continued to describe a number of steps that might promote more sustainable development including enhancing cooperation between the campus and the larger community. For university communities, especially in small towns, it is important to find a balance between the needs of the university and the goals of the town. On one hand, towns can easily be overwhelmed by increased automotive traffic brought about by tens of thousands of new residents during the academic year. At the same time, towns rely on university-related traffic to help support their businesses. Universities also have a vested interest in a town that promotes a spirit of community for its students and provides access to a number of nearby entertainment, shopping, and dining opportunities. We believe that many of these goals can be met through development of more sustainable transportation practices, particularly in the encouragement of non-vehicular transportation not only within campus, but between campus and the surrounding community. Many university towns have a central business district which relies on students and community residents, and would benefit from being more easily accessible to walkers and bikers.
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