UC Davis students, staff and faculty continue to ride circles around a consultant who doubted if the university could get more people to bike to and from campus.
“They came on board and said, ‘You need to focus on something else, because clearly everyone who could bike is already biking,’ ” said Leslie Mancebo, the transportation demand and marketing coordinator for Transportation and Parking Services, or TAPS. “And we proved them wrong.”
The annual Campus Travel Survey, conducted by TAPS and the Institute of Transportation Studies, has shown a 9 percentage-point increase in the number of Aggies on bikes since the first survey in 2007.
The number climbed 3 percentage points from 44 percent in the 2012-13 survey to 47 percent in the 2013-14 survey, for which the data just came out. (The 2014-15 survey just wrapped up.)
The 2013-14 survey calculated that approximately four people are riding in each vehicle coming to campus on an average weekday, significantly more than the ridership per car at other campuses, and only 24 percent of commuters drive alone.
The survey, conducted each fall, asks how people get to campus, whether they carpool, the length of their commutes, and other questions. The answers help transportation institute researchers calculate carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles, and help the campus and city identify popular bicycling routes to campus.
TAPS uses its goClub program to promote bicycling and other forms of alternative transportation: carpooling and vanpooling, bus and train, and walking.
Mancebo said convincing drivers that bicycling or Unitrans are viable alternatives is largely about psychology. For example, some drivers try to bike to campus, but buy parking permits anyway for the occasional rainy day. But, those parking permits are tempting, people start driving more and more, and their bicycles collect cobwebs.
But here’s where the goClub can help — provided you forego a parking permit. The club provides up to two complimentary parking permits for members to use each month on days when they choose to drive, and emergency rides home, say, if your child falls ill at school.
“Once people give up their parking permit, they really try hard to stick with their alternative mode,” she said.
The survey results also help TAPS gauge its visibility and effectiveness. For example, Mancebo said, a previous survey showed low awareness of TAPS’ Motorist Assistance Program, which provides free help to drivers with flat tires or who are locked out of their cars. In response, TAPS stepped up its marketing efforts.
Survey results also have shown commuters are less likely to ride a bicycles between south Davis and the campus, compared with ridership from other parts of town, perhaps because Interstate 80 and the Union Pacific railroad tracks are perceived as barriers. Mancebo said she would like to raise awareness of the Putah Creek Parkway tunnel under I-80 and the Richards Boulevard tunnel under the UP tracks.
Natalie Popovich, the graduate student who administered the 2013-14 survey, said she was surprised by how consistent Aggies are in how they choose to get to campus, year after year.
New questions in the recently completed 2014-15 survey asked about housing.
“Since the majority of the greenhouse gas emissions are a result of students and employees who live outside of Davis and drive to campus, we are asking employees why they choose to live outside of Davis,” Popovich said in an email. “This information will help the campus understand if residential location is a result of personal preference or the lack of affordable/available housing in Davis.”
Calvin Thigpen, the graduate student conducting the 2014-15 survey, said other new questions included queries about attitudes and preferences toward driver licenses, the comfort of bicyclists on various Davis streets, and the demographics and attitudes of skateboarders on campus.
Dave Jones, Dateline, 530-752-6556, firstname.lastname@example.org