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Thread: Getting college students to give up their cars

  1. #1
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    Getting college students to give up their cars

    I hope this is the right place to post this--I'm new, so be kind! Anyway. I'm a member of a planning-esque advisory board at my small college, and many of us on the board have noticed an increase in students driving to class and the dining hall. My campus is very walkable, and no one lives further than walking distance from class. (No off-campus housing.) To discourage people from driving and to keep our rustic, pedestrian-friendly, and sustainable character, I've been assigned the task of stemming the tide of student drivers. There's really no reason for students to drive. Most of the time, you have to walk further to your car than to class. You also get a ticket if you park in on-campus lots. Even so, the automobile's lure is strong and mysterious...

    Anyone have experience doing this? I was thinking an ad campaign, where we humiliate student drivers (ex: "Your laziness deprives disabled people from needed parking spaces")... but that might be a bit, uh, overzealous. Of course, my perspective might be a bit clouded by that crazy freshman in a Suburban who ran a stop sign and almost turned me into a flesh pancake.

    So how do you get people who don't need to to stop driving?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by SamK View post
    Anyone have experience doing this? I was thinking an ad campaign, where we humiliate student drivers (ex: "Your laziness deprives disabled people from needed parking spaces")... but that might be a bit, uh, overzealous. Of course, my perspective might be a bit clouded by that crazy freshman in a Suburban who ran a stop sign and almost turned me into a flesh pancake.

    So how do you get people who don't need to to stop driving?
    Alot of Universities and Colleges prohibit freshman and sometimes sophomores from having a car on campus at all. That's the cigarette model, where you prevent them from picking up the habit and get students into the habit of simply walking.

    Or you could restrict the campus roadways to only campus-owned vehicles, or restrict enough that driving to the Dining Hall is onerous.

    Lastly, it could be a weather issue related to the winter. Covered walkways could help there.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
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    At Iowa State they restricted all in-campus traffic to buses and campus vehicles. One the busiest road there was actually a gate. The gates would be raised for public use at 6 o'clock I think.

    All the students I knew complained nonstop about the lack of parking, but in the end we all walked to campus and around campus. Also, our little "Campustown" with bars and restaurants was right across the street from one of the main buildings so everyone just lived there and hopped across the street to campus.

    Like someone mentioned, its hard in the freezing cold weather, but that's the price you pay to be on a campus. I would suggest you gate off the main roads during the day and also reduce the parking near the dining hall. The harder you make it to operate a car the less people will want to use them. Good luck!

  4. #4
    Cyburbian H's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by manzell View post
    Alot of Universities and Colleges prohibit freshman and sometimes sophomores from having a car on campus at all. That's the cigarette model, where you prevent them from picking up the habit and get students into the habit of simply walking.
    That is interesting, the "cigarette model." you know, my father prohibited freshmen (i.e. me) from having cars and so I lived on campus, ate on campus, and walked or rode my bike where ever I needed to go. Later on I took a car to school with me, but my habits did not really change and the car stayed parked a lot. Hmm. I guess it worked (for me). Cool.
    "Those who plan do better than those who do not plan, even though they rarely stick to their plan." - Winston Churchill

  5. #5
    Cyburbian cellophane's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by SamK View post
    So how do you get people who don't need to to stop driving?
    spike strips.


  6. #6
    Try charging for parking. Read the book: The High Cost of Free Parking. Set parking cost fees so high that no student will want a car, its what it costs your college anyway, even in a place where land costs are cheap.

    Having just walked to school in -4 degree weather, I am not all that sympathetic to the weather arguments.

  7. #7
    Dan Staley's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by SamK View post

    Anyone have experience doing this? I was thinking an ad campaign, where we humiliate student drivers (ex: "Your laziness deprives disabled people from needed parking spaces")... but that might be a bit, uh, overzealous. Of course, my perspective might be a bit clouded by that crazy freshman in a Suburban who ran a stop sign and almost turned me into a flesh pancake.

    So how do you get people who don't need to to stop driving?
    David Orr describes this process at his college, Oberlin, in The Nature of Design: Ecology, culture and human intention. He's also written op-eds about it. You may want to give him or the department staff a call.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Jakers's avatar
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    How about huge Communist-era banners that promote the worker pride of walking.

    And highlights the fascist automobile as a vehicle of Capitalist pigs!

    In all seriousness, it will be very difficult to persuade people to stop driving unless you look at it from a cost-benefit analysis. Make them pay.

    That or provide golf carts and free bikes. My school had a huge bike popultaion. "Roads" that traversed the entire campus that was always busier than the 405 at 6pm

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Paying for parking is not a new concept to me. In fact, many heavily impact UC campuses in California like UCLA charge upwards of $200 dollars (and probably more since 2003) for the right to pay to park...per quarter (yes you read that right), not to mention campus sometimes specifically try to reduce the amount of parking available for students to reduce demand.

    I did a study for a class project back in the day to reduce campus parking among students. What we came up with for the Cal Poly campus and found its way into the campus' master plan was a pricing structure based on distanced traveled from campus as well as banning freshman parking with few exceptions. Basically the closer you lived to campus (i.e. based on address 0-2 miles) the more you paid. At the time our permits were about $75 a quarter.So we suggested those that lived closest to campus would pay upwards of $150 for the right to park.

    Don't know if they implemented this part, but it seemed it would curb the amount of folks using their cars to campus and take alternatives such as walking, biking and using the bus.

    Here is a link to UCLA's parking program:
    http://map.ais.ucla.edu/portal/site/...00dd6643a4RCRD
    follow me on the twitter @rcplans

  10. #10
    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    I'll echo what others have said - the only things that will work are to increase the cost of parking or decrease the supply of parking - or both.
    Two wrongs don't necessarily make a right, but three lefts do.

  11. #11
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    One thing you should also consider is the proximity of the college to nearby amenities like bars, restaurants, bookstores, nightclubs, coffeeshops, etc. If these amenities aren't located close by, then the students probably do need to have their cars, or be stranded on campus during the weekends (I'm assuming your small college doesn't have a lot of these amenities on campus).

    The way my undergrad college restricted parking was a combination of the "cigarette" method and sky-high parking decal fees...also parking tickets were quite significant. It ended up that students only had cars if they absolutely needed them.

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