Universities Go Green, Part 3: Transportation E-mail
Sunday, 06 November 2011 00:00  |  Written by Francisco Ramos | Blog Entry

Bikes at UC-Davis photo by Yasmina ChoueiriOf the estimated 18 million college students in the US, only two million live in campus dorms. The remaining 16 million join the countless Americans who commute an average of 100 hours per year. These commutes—if not on foot or by bike—add to pollution and help exacerbate the increasing problem of climate change. This has not gone unnoticed by universities across the country, which are beginning to invest resources to alter the way people get around—on and off campus.

University of Kentucky
The University of Kentucky has implemented a Live Where You Work program(LWYW), which encourages faculty members to live closer to the institution. In cooperation with participating lenders, the program will finance up to 5% of the cost of the home as a down payment. Additional funds can be applied on an annual basis for home improvements.

The compact development of neighborhoods is expected to save 8% in costs, and reduce the municipal deficit by 10% over the next 15 years. LWYW encourages participants to walk, cycle and use public transportation as a means to commute, as well.  This helps the environment and, as a bonus, fosters a sense of community surrounding the campus. The low-interest, fixed-rate mortgage program has been so successful that other universities and even the state of New Jersey have adopted similar measures.

University of Washington
The University of Washington is a very bicycle-centric college. In an effort to reduce the amount of cars and parking lots on campus, the university has been successful at developing bike routes across the university and throughout Seattle. With a bike-rack capacity for nearly 6,500 bicycles, the achievement has served as an example to universities throughout the country.

University of New England
One such school, the University of New England in Bedford, Maine, handed out 105 bicycles during the first week of school. Since the program’s implementation, there has been a 50% decrease of motor vehicles brought in by the freshman class.

Through sponsorship by companies such as Fuji Bikes and Bicycle South, more institutions are developing bike-sharing programs. Cities such as San Francisco, Portland, Oregon, and Washington, DC, are now cultivating citywide plans as well.

University of California-Davis
The University of California-Davis is one the leading institutions in alternative transportation.  In fact, there are 20,000 bicycles on the campus daily. And it hosts an annual bike-sharing summit that attracts national attention.

UC-Davis has also heavily invested in its on-campus modes of transportation.  Most of the institution’s bus system operates on compressed natural gas or hydrogen. With a university ID, citywide transit is free. This makes the Amtrak station, located a mile off campus, easily accessible to commuters and travelers.

The commitment to sustainability is being led by the nation’s greatest centers of learning. Their ingenuity and proactivity will continue to spread from the core of their campuses to the communities and states in which they reside.

The conscious actions of an individual, a committee or an organization may seem insignificant in and of themselves. However, we are all interconnected. A bike rider in Seattle helps encourage a LEED building in Atlanta that is powered by a turbine in Rhode Island. Supporting local initiatives means nurturing action throughout the country and across the globe. As Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Comments (1)add
Written by Nory , September 23, 2009
That's fascinating!
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