Limiting bicycle access to harmonize walking and cycling in AIT campus

Limiting bicycle access to harmonize walking and cycling in AIT campus

Principal Investigator: Djoen San Santoso

Area of activity: Sustainable transportation

Background and rationale:

Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) as a leading graduate institution has education and residential buildings integrated in its premises. AIT provides on-campus dormitory to its students and housing to its employees. Cycling and walking to study and work has become very convenient and popular for those who live on campus. The green environment and traffic arrangement have made cycling and walking safe and enjoyable. The inner parts of the academic and administration buildings are only connected by narrow corridors where cars could not access. The access of motorcycles is also limited to only the areas close to the AIT gate where parking spaces are provided for motorcycles.

Majority mode inside the periphery of academic and administration buildings is bicycle. Without proper bicycle parking regulations, it can be easily observed bicycles were parked everywhere and in many cases obstructing or blocking the entrance of buildings or walkway for pedestrians as shown in Figure 1. Bicycle parking racks could be found in some locations but usually only very few bicyclists used this facility. Most prefer to park as close as possible to destination building, sometimes without considering walking passage. This practice has become nuisance for some people and may not be an indicator of AIT as a prestigious and well-managed international institution.

limiting_bicycle_access_1

Figure-1. Parked bicycles obstructing entrances to buildings

 

Objectives:

As regulating bicycles to be parked on appropriate parking places or racks had been done previously and was unsuccessful without full and daily control, prohibiting bicycles to access inner parts of the academic and administration building is proposed. Centralized bicycle parking locations will be provided to students and employees live far from the inner parts can ride and park their bicycles, and walk to their destinations.

  •  To identify centralized bicycle parking lots that can accommodate the needs of the community
  •  To implement the bicycle restriction rule with the support and approval from AIT Administration and concerned units
  •  To examine the implementation from the perspectives of AIT community (students, staff, and faculty)
  •  To propose recommendation to the AIT Administration in harmonizing walking and cycling in the inner parts

It is also taken into consideration that during the implementation, special permission may be issued to those who need to ride bicycle to the inner parts due to physical conditions or work needs.

Literature review:

In transportation sector, when discussing about sustainability, there are typically three modes considered and expected to play more roles in the moving people from one location to another: walking, bicycle, and mass transit. Walking and bicycle are non‐motorized transportation modes that are green, cheap, and healthy.

Japan is recognized as one of the countries that encourage walking and cycling. These two travel modes are commonly used to go to rail stations or places for leisure activities. Bicyclists typically ride on the sidewalk with or without information that the sidewalk also served as bicycle lane. With this situation, pedestrian have to share the sidewalk with bicyclists for their travel activities. This situation of mix traffic does not conducive and encouraging for walking. Therefore, while lately the trend of traffic accidents for motorized vehicles on the down trend, the number of collisions between pedestrian and bicycle is increasing (IATSS, 2007). This indicates the importance of properly managing and organizing the integration of walking and cycling in travel activities.

The above situation resembles the same situation with travel activities inside a large university only the coverage or scope is limited. For the purpose of managing traffic and encouraging nonmotorized trips on campus, many universities have clear traffic policy and regulations, including for bicycle and walking so these two modes can be integrated in harmony. Applying sustainable transportation planning and policy in universities, especially to encourage walking and cycling, has also been studied (Balsas, 2003). Most universities in the US have specific units that manage and monitor traffic regulations and safety on campus so on-campus traffic rules and regulations can be properly monitored and enforced. Restricting or limiting the access of bicycles on certain areas on the campus is commonly found in on-campus traffic policy. Bicycle parking locations are clearly identified and rules in parking are also well defined. Some universities also apply fine for those who break the rules and regulations (Princeton, 2014; University of South Carolina, 2014). This is certainly for the purpose of harmonizing the existence of walking and cycling. Asadi‐Shekari, et al. (2014) in their study at one university in Malaysia introduced the pedestrian level of service for campuses so appropriate direction and actions can be applied to improve the quality of walking on campus.

Detailed methodology:

The parts of academic and administration buildings, which are the Bicycle Restricted Area (BRA), cover areas from Telecommunication, CSIM, Energy, Outreach, AIT Extension, AITCC, Arcade, Book Store, Administration, South and North Academic Buildings, and Library. Some bicycle parking locations (at least two locations) will be identified to accommodate bicycle users in consultation with concerned AIT units and Student Union (SU).

The implementation stage is expected to be 2 weeks and the period of the restriction is during weekday and from 07:30‐17:00. In supporting this implementation, it is expected that cars are prohibited to enter the road between Telecommunication Building and North Academic Building so community can safely walk along this road. Socialization of the new rule to the community will be done starting one week before the implementation. In the first few days of the implementation, student assistants will help guiding bicyclists for directions and parking locations so the BRA can be sterile from bicycle. It is expected that AIT Administration will also support and issue a policy to allow concerned unit (Security) to confiscate bicycles found illegally parked in BRA zone so the rule and system can be strictly imposed and only regular monitoring is necessary.

After one week of implementation, questionnaires will be distributed to find out the opinions and perspectives of AIT community towards the new bicycle rule. Students, staff and faculty members are the target of the survey with the expected number of samples: 150, 100, 50 respondents, respectively. The questionnaire covers questions about:

  • Socio demographic of respondents related to their study or work in AIT
  • Evaluations on the implemented bicycle rule
  • Suggestions on the implementation

Results of data analysis are expected to answer questions such as: how many and who support the new rule, are there any significant different in the perceptions of the implementation based on the socio-demographic of respondents, what are other factors need to be improved or considered further for fully and permanently implement the rule.

The factual results of the implementation and the analysis results of the questionnaire survey are integrated and examined to propose recommendations to AIT Administration to develop AIT toward green and sustainable campus.

Expected outputs and impacts:

This practical research activity is expected to contribute in the following aspects:

  •  Community can enjoy walking in AIT campus without any hassle. No bicycles obstructing the walkway and entrance to the building. Everyone can walk freely without worrying being hit by bicycles.
  •  The surrounding environment within the BRA becomes more organized and appealing as the view of chaotic bicycles parked randomly and unorganized has gone.
  •  The new rule will certainly eliminate the possibility of collision between bicyclist and pedestrian in BRA zone.
  •  The implementation and output of the survey can help and guide AIT Administration in developing a sustainable transportation policy for AIT by considering access of private cars as well for a green and livable AIT campus

Contributions to AIT: A living sustainability laboratory

The purposes of being a living sustainable laboratory for AIT are not only about applying rules and restrictions and encouraging community to save energy, conserve resources and environment, reduce, reuse, and recycle. A living sustainable laboratory should also be a place where community can enjoy and be delighted with the environment and surrounding areas of their working place.

AIT has a nice, clean, and green environment that other Thai universities may envy. However, this wonderful environment is meaningless if bicycles can be found parked indiscriminately almost everywhere, where people have to struggle to pass through a stack of bicycles messily parked along the corridor blocking the entrance of a building. How green and good AIT is in the management and operational of energy, waste, and water, which is more to internal operation, it will not be complete if the external environment and surrounding, which can be directly observed, do not reflect AIT as an organized, well-managed, and pedestrian-friendly institution. When the inner core of academic and administration areas is free from bicycle, it is expected that community can walk more freely and conveniently. This certainly will stimulate more interaction among AIT community to promote social harmony and strengthen social fabric to support sustainability of AIT. Therefore, the limitation of bicycle access will help define AIT as a prestigious international institution that care about its community well-being and sustainable environment.

If the implementation of bicycle restricted area to be continued above the duration of this project, a specific AIT unit should be given responsibility and authority to manage and supervise the implementation. Integration and consideration of this policy in the development or renovation of other facilities (such as library) should also be taken into account.