Uni-Cycle: The Influence of Barrier Perception on bicycle commuting behaviour at Dalhousie University
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In Canada, 25% of national green house gas emissions come from transportation. For this reason, transportation is seen as an important area to examine as a Greening the Campus initiative at Dalhousie University. In order to further understand sustainability issues with transportation on campus, this project sought to determine the influence of barrier perception on the bicycle commuting behaviour amongst Dalhousie’s student population. The research carried out was primarily for descriptive purposes and used a mix of inductive and deductive methods. The primary research tool was a survey of the student population that collected baseline data on commuting habitats and qualitative responses on questions specific to bicycle commuting. The data collected revealed that 87% of commuting by Dalhousie students is by sustainable modes, with walking accounting for the largest group (58%) and bicycling the smallest (7%). The research also showed that the five strongest barriers to bicycle commuting are: weather, travel time, wind, car traffic, and safety. When these results were analyzed however, it was shown that there were very weak relationships between barrier perceptions and the actual number of trips by bicycle. It was also discovered that 65% of students at Dalhousie live within 2 km of campus. With these two results it became clear that social factors and local environment are likely more significant determinants of travel behaviour than the perception of physical barriers. Based on this conclusion it was recommended that Dalhousie develop a comprehensive sustainable transportation plan that examines all modes of travel together. This plan should include provisions for transportation and demand management and mixed mode use. This recommendation also suggests that pedestrian facilities and environments are the most important area of focus for sustainable transportation on campus. Bicycles are still seen as an important mode for commuting and could possibly be provided for with the construction of pedestrian friendly infrastructure; but will not likely increase in use until more is known about the social influences in commuter decision making.