Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety around University Campuses

College campuses represent unique physical and social environments within a city or a region. Many campuses have dense concentrations of activity — in classrooms, offices, research labs, dormitories, performance spaces, recreational facilities, and other locations — making walking and bicycling convenient means of travel between university buildings. Limited space for automobile parking and congested streets near universities tend to make walking, bicycling, and public transit attractive for commuting to campuses. These modes are also popular in university campus areas because students often have limited incomes and low rates of automobile ownership.

Students cross a roadway on the boundary of the University of California, Berkeley.

Students cross a roadway on the boundary of the University of California, Berkeley.
Photo by Robert J. Schneider

Despite having physical layouts and social environments conducive to walking and bicycling, most campuses also attract many students, faculty, and staff who commute by automobile. Some of these commuters drive because they live far from campus. Others may travel by car for different reasons, such as having physical disabilities, wanting to limit exposure to bad weather, or being concerned about the safety or security of walking, bicycling, or taking transit. As a result, most university campuses are surrounded and some are dissected by roadways that serve private automobiles, buses, bicycles, and pedestrians. This dynamic transportation environment poses safety risks to all roadway users, including pedestrians and bicyclists. Since pedestrians and bicyclists are particularly vulnerable to traffic injuries, it is especially important to design roadways and implement education and enforcement programs to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety on and near university campuses.

Bicyclists pedal through an intersection while pedestrians wait to cross on a roadway on the boundary of the University of California, Berkeley

Bicyclists pedal through an intersection while pedestrians wait to cross on a roadway on the boundary of the University of California, Berkeley

University transportation systems balance the needs of a variety of travel modes, but pedestrian and bicycle safety are fundamental to creating an attractive campus environment. Improving pedestrian and bicycle safety requires careful planning by the university and close coordination with surrounding community and city agencies. This toolkit brings together resources that can be used by planners, designers, and engineers at universities and in university communities to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety in and around campuses*.

Click on the links below for additional information:

  1. Background: Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety in Campus Areas
  2. Campus Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Evaluation Methods
  3. Education Strategies in Campus Areas
  4. Enforcement Strategies in Campus Areas
  5. Engineering Strategies in Campus Areas
  6. Campus Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Policies and Plans
  7. Example Campus Pedestrian and Bicycle Plans
  8. Campus Transportation Surveys and Studies
  9. References

*We use the terminology "college campus" to indicate campus areas of higher education, which includes 4-year college programs, community colleges, 2-year programs, medical schools, and research hospital complexes. While this toolkit does not include trade schools, the safety issues and recommendations in this toolkit are likely to apply to trade school campuses.