Crashes on and Near College Campuses: A Comparative Analysis of Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety


Problem, research strategy, and findings: College campuses are multimodal settings with very high levels of walking and biking in conjunction with high levels of vehicular traffic, which increases risks for bicyclists and pedestrians. In this study, we examine crash data (both police reported and self-reported) and urban form data from three U.S. campuses to understand the spatial and temporal distribution of crashes on the campuses and their immediate periphery. To account for underreporting of pedestrian and bicycle crashes, we developed and circulated an online survey, which helped identify collision hotspots across the three campuses. We then studied these locations to determine their characteristics, generate a typology of campus danger zones, and recommend design and policy changes that could improve pedestrian and cycling safety. We find a significant underreporting of crashes, and unequal spatial and temporal distributions of campus crashes. We identify three particular types of danger zones for pedestrians and cyclists: campus activity hubs, campus access hubs, and through traffic hubs. Injuries tended to be more serious for those crashes taking place on campus peripheries.

Takeaway for practice: The intermingling of motorized and non-motorized modes creates significant opportunities for crashes. Planners should be aware of the existing underreporting and give special attention to the three types of danger zones. In addition to the recommendations of the literature for the creation of campus master plans for walking and biking, campuses should conduct safety audits and surveys to identify hotspots and consider specific design improvements for each of the three danger zones to lessen modal conflict.

Publication date: 
December 16, 2014
Publication type: 
Journal Article