Walking campus to reduce vehicle traffic


By Pat Bowden Reporter

Students will find walking across campus much safer and more convenient due to recent renovations. About nine city blocks worth of roads from the inner area of campus have been removed. The creation of a pedestrian friendly ‘walking campus’ is a part of Impact 2018, a strategic plan for SDSU and the 2025 Design and Master Plan. 

   While the main city roads surrounding campus will not be affected, both roads that connected from main streets and a number of parking lots on campus have been removed and relocated for not only the sake of smoother pedestrian traffic, but also for safety reasons.

   “The efforts for a walking campus are for reducing the likelihood of pedestrian and vehicle conflict,” said Executive Assistant to the President Bob Otterson. He said that while there are still roads that bisect campus, starting July 2013, the campus began removing some of the inner roads.

While making the campus more pedestrian friendly may seem like a step backwards in some aspects, it isn’t uncommon to see schools make the same decision when their enrollment grows.

   “It’s a fairly common thing for campuses to remove inner roads and improve pedestrian ability to cross campus safely and improve the look of campus with green spaces,” said Director of Residential Life Jeff Hale. “The human element says we want to park right outside of where we’re going, but this adds to the beautification of campus and the safety of campus.”

 Another part of the 2025 Master Plan, one of the key points under recommendations says that the plan was not created for “expanding the campus footprint.” That said, there is controversially a growing student body with 12,583 students (2013) and a projected 14,013 students by 2018, according to Impact 2018.

“Our enrollment and number of employees has increased significantly while the main campus has been the same size for four years,” Otterson said. “Those realities prompted the conversation about pedestrian corridors and a walking campus.”

      An answer to this question of campus size can be found through the construction of safer pedestrian corridors – which are streets, parking lots and walkways that all help students get to their destinations, according to the 2025 Master Plan. They should “facilitate safe and enjoyable experiences,” which takes on the points of relocating inner parking lots and removing connecting streets.

Removing roads and parking lots makes room for more building facilities, according to the 2025 Master Plan. 

 “New construction on campus follows a process by the Board of Regents, which includes a facility statement and design work that is approved by the Board,” Otterson said about the way campus has been going about implementing new buildings and facilities.

Of the committees that contributed to the ultimate direction the campus is taking, the decision to move parking outside of the inner ring of campus didn’t come from the campus design committee, but rather the parking and traffic committee who both worked together in the early stages of editing the campus blueprint.

“We had a parking consultant come in to the parking and traffic committee who recommended we move all parking outside of the inner ring,” said Director of Environmental Engineering and past chair of campus planning and design committee Christopher Schmit. “The overall concept of the walking campus wasn’t there but it was being developed at the time … We liked the concept of the ring road that went around campus, but there’s still some consternation about people wanting to park closer to their buildings.”

 The idea of a walking campus and the plans for campus renovation didn’t come from one sole person’s idea, but was rather the result of years of talking and planning from various committees of staff and students and the recent action that administration has taken to implement all of the ideas into a plan of action.

   “A lot of this stemmed from the president’s vision, which was to make this a walking campus,” Schmit said, “there’s a lot of people who have their fingerprints on this plan.”

 An anticipated complaint from students is the long distance they might have to walk in the winter months, or that they may be late to class because they didn’t get to park next to their destination and it’s cold out, Hale said.

 “Students are walking everywhere and they’re staying on the sidewalks, which shows they appreciate the green space. So I think students appreciate that it’s a safe and sturdy surface to walk on,” Hale said.