Investigating campus cycling environment of a large southeastern university from an ecological perspective
Cycling is an effective method to address physical, psychological, and environmental health. As an alternative mode of transport, it can also be more economical compared to motor vehicles. Despite these benefits, cyclists run a moderately high risk of being injured on the road or in a vehicular accident. According to a survey completed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 88% of cyclists felt most threatened by motorists on the road and 37% perceived uneven walkways and roadways were a threat to personal safety. The purpose of this study was to examine college student perceptions of safety and factors contributing to campus cycling from an ecological perspective. Intrapersonal, interpersonal, and institutional factors associated with safety and campus cycling were assessed as well as how they interacted with each other. A survey was developed and administered to students on a large southeastern public university. The sample of 356 participants indicated that certain intrapersonal level factors were predictors of cycling, including bike specific issues (e.g., concerns about general bike maintenance) and personal appearance (e.g., looking "silly while wearing a helmet). Interpersonal cycling factors (e.g., concerns about interacting with motor vehicle drivers) were not statistically significant. However, institutional cycling factors, including institutional barriers (e.g., busy roads) and institutional facilitators (e.g., establishing more bike lanes and covered parking), were predictors of cycling. The study findings provide guidance to university stakeholders about what specific factors are prioritized and deemed more likely to facilitate cycling among students. Cycling has been found to be very beneficial, as it has been associated with reduced traffic, improved parking, and better ease of transport on campus. Therefore, these suggestions have implications for environmental and structural changes, policy development, and program planning.