1.0 Vision Of Sustainability
2.0 Project Focus
3.0 Study Rational
4.0 Cycling Systems Study
Section B: Methodology
Section C: Project Results and Findings
The vision of a sustainable university campus for the Univeristy of Waterloo looks at each system within the campus and how each of those systems function. Each system must operate efficiently and effectively. All inputs, throughputs, and outputs must be considered and their impacts examined. Each system in a sustainable campus will use minimum inputs, maximize efficiency of throughputs, and minimize negative outputs.
Our vision of a sustainable UW campus will include the following attributes:
Once these attributes have been integrated into the every day operations of the UW campus, our vision of sustainability will have been realized. The purpose of this project is to examine the sustainability of a sub-system of the transportation system, in particular, cycling at the University of Waterloo (see Figure 1. The Transportation System ).
We are studying the challenges that cyclists face when commuting to the University of Waterloo (UW). Specifically, we are identifying those physical barriers and personal attitudes which deter UW students, staff, and faculty from commuting to school via bicycle.
The objectives of our study are:
Our key objective is to help the University of Waterloo and the City of Waterloo make cycling to campus easier than driving a vehicle to campus. We have narrowed the focus of our project to the following research question:
Why don't more members of the University of Waterloo community commute to school via bicycle?
3.0 Study Rationale
3.1 In General......
We are performing this study because of a need for fundamental change in the attitudes of North American society towards transportation. Automobiles create more pollution than any other human activity in the world today (Lowe, 1990, p.124). Air pollution is a serious health risk and those damages to the natural environment which are incurred as a result of the use of fossil fuels are posing a tremendous threat to humanity. The sustainability of our species on this earth is dependent on the natural systems in the biosphere, yet our everyday activities are continually decreasing the quality of the biosphere. We are trying to learn from the UW population what we can do to decrease the use of motorized vehicles and increase the use of bicycles for commuting to the UW campus. On some greater scale, we hope to determine how to foster cycling as an alternative mode of transportation in general, in the everyday lives of society.
The involvement of greater institutions in encouraging cycling is a necessity. It is these institutions, such as national, provincial and local governments, which allow for safe and efficient access to the cycling system for commuting (IMC Consulting Group Inc., 1994, p.7). A well-planned and comprehensive cycling infrastructure for any province, city or university campus proves not only a committment to a healthy society, but aids in the improvement of human health, welfare and the natural environment.
We have complied an extensive amount of background information on the benefits of cycling. We have also researched various local, national, and international cycling infrastructures as well as past WATgreen projects associated with our topic. For more information on cycling see Background Information
3.2 Our Specific Rationale
The University community is a significant resource for change on campus. Their attitudes determine the effect that any project has on the sustainability of the campus. A decrease in motorized vehicle traffic, both on campus and on-route to campus, would realize a number of benefits for the University and its potential for acheiving sustainability, for example:
Essential to sustainable development is ending the consumption of non-renewable resources. Automobiles, in general, consume petroleum and oil, thus depleting fixed resources and decreasing future generations' access to those resources.
This is intrinsic to the sustainability of the UW campus. Not only would it improve health/air quality on a local scale, but it would have implications for greater problems, such as global warming and acid rain.
Not only would this reduce the number of car-related accidents, but it would also decrease the number of bicycle-pedestrian accidents. A reduction or disappearence in vehicle traffic would allow for more space for bicycles and pedestrians to travel on/to campus. Off campus, this reduction would allow for more segregated bike travel, thus reducing the amount of motor vehicle-bicycle interaction.
More people cycling to school means more people taking part in regular physical activity. This will lead to stronger immune systems and a more content UW community.
Automobile parking lots require at least twenty times as much space as bicycle parking facilties (Lowe, 1990, p.131). Thus, a portion of the existing parking lots could be used for central lockup facilities (bike storage) while the majority of parking lots could be recovered as natural land and could possibly be naturalized.
This would improve the overall water quality of Laurel Creek and the Grand River watershed. It would also reduce the amount of damage to bicycles caused by salt when it comes into contact with the drivetrain of a bicycle.
Each of these benefits contribute to the sustainability of the UW community.
The transportation system can be broken down into two components: on-campus and off-campus (see < A HREF="figure1.gif">Figure 1. The Transportation System). The purpose of this paper is to examine the on-campus system, in particular, the cycling sub-system (see Figure 2. The Cycling System). The cycling sub-system is primarily a social system where the main flows between the actor groups are in the form of education, policies, and other data related flows of information. Our group will be focusing on the cycling system from the cyclist's perspective. In addition, the study will examine the perspective of non-cyclists and key actors within the cycling system (see Figure 2. The Cycling System). The cycling system is part of the transportation system as indicated in Figure 1. The study will use results from a survey completed by students, faculty, and staff to identify the following:
The cycling systems key actors as shown in Figure 2. The Cycling System perform various functions (inputs/outputs) in the system that influence and impact on other key actors.
The cycling system's key actors are:
The UW Administration approves, develops, and designates authority on UW policies and procedures. The UW Administration receives information from other key actors. For example, UW Parking reports data and requests additional monies for parking lot expansions and upgrades. The UW Administration MAY perceive the cycling system as a good idea, but not financially beneficial.
The U W Parking operates under authority from the UW Administration to provide parking services for students, faculty and staff. UW Parking also informs plant operations of required services, such as snow removal and lawn maintenance. As part of their designated authority, UW Parking MAY be involved in bicycle central lock-ups. They MAY also resist the purpose of this study because their revenues would decrease if the use of automobiles decreased on campus.
UW Security has been given authority to issue parking tickets and handle accidents that may involve cyclists. Cyclists report accidents and thefts to security. UW Security then passes the accident data to Health and Safety. UW Security MAY perceive the cycling systems future in a different way (ie., in terms of safety) rather than the reduction of bicyles on campus.
Plant operations receives data from various actors that requires them to carry out various physical functions (see Figure 3. The Physical System ). In addition, the administration's policies and procedures influence the actions of Plant Operations. Plant Operations also has an internal policy that affects cyclists on campus. For example, the placement and quantity of bicycle racks. Plant Operations perceives the cycling system as an important factor in their ability to plan for the future.
The UW Bicycle Centre passes information on to cyclists about general bicycle safety and maintenance. The UW Administration gives the Bicycle Centre authority to operate as a organization on campus. Cyclists and other groups send information to the Bicycle Centre on important issues which then goes to the administration or the Bicycle Safety Sub-Committee. The Bicycle Centre perceives the cycling system as an integral component in their operation.
Health and Safety receives information and policies from the UW Administration. In addition, cyclists, security, WATgreen, and the Bicycle Safety Sub-Committee supply data, reports and information on issues regarding on-campus safety. Health and Safety relays the collected data to the administration and various UW committees for educational and policy related issues. Health and Safety perceive the cycling system as an important area to improve with regards to safety.
The Bicycle Safety Sub-Committee receives direction from Health and Safety. They gather information from the Univeristy population concerning bicycling related issues. The information then gets passed to Health and Safety. The Bicycle Safety Sub-Committee perceives the cycling system as an important safety issue.
WATgreen was created by the UW admnistration in 1990 as a result of numerous activities in the 1980s organized to address UWs ecological profile. WATgreen coordinates projects around campus to improve the sustainability of UW. The UW Administration policies guide the UW community to participate ethusiastically with WATgreen projects. WATgreen and its projects report (output) to the UW Administration and other concerned parties the results and suggested actions to improve the sustainability of UW. The main input for WATgreen originates from student projects in the environmental and engineering faculties.
The Region of Waterloo's impact on the cycling system occurs off campus as shown in Figure 1. The Region of Waterloo develops policies on future bike paths on several roads near U W (e.g. King St., University Ave., Westmount Rd.). The Region of Waterloo receives input from the UW community and MAY perceive the cycling system as an additional expense not affordable in todays economic system (e.g. new paths). The City of Waterloo has a similar function in the cycling system as the Region of Waterloo. It is responsible for roads near UW (e.g. Father David Baurer Drive). Both the Region of Waterloo and the City of Waterloo function within a politcal system that influences their decisions on issues such as cycling. The citizens of each area can demand increased paths and trails.
Cyclists are the main actor in the cycling system. They interact with most of the actors directly and all of them indirectly through one or two other actors. The cyclists receive inputs in the form of education, policy, and services from other system actors. Outputs from the cyclists are accident reports, surveys for projects, suggestions or complaints, and physical interactions with the system (e.g. paths, railings, bike racks). The cyclists MAY perceive certain portions of the cycling system as barriers (e.g. policy on bikes in university buildings). Other portions of the cycling system can be view as positive influences on the system (e.g. project to improve cycling on campus).
For a more detailed description of the cycling sub-system see Appendix B: Cycling Systems Description
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Section B: Methodology
Section C: Project Results and Findings
Last Update: April 18, 1997 jw