School is back in session, and a lot has changed on the Ohio State campus. Besides the incessant construction and roadwork, a subtler impact: a bike map kiosk, outlining recommended biking routes on campus, has been erected outside the RPAC.
The bike map kiosk has been in the making for two years now, beginning as a class project in ENR 2367 with Dr. Greg Hitzhusen, lecturer in the School of Environment and Natural Resources.
In fall of 2012, Dr. Hitzhusen decided to expand the final research assignment for the communications class, offering students the chance to use the research report to submit a proposal for Student Life’s Coca-Cola Student Sustainability Grants.
One group of students latched on to the idea, and chose to study bike routes at Ohio State in light of a couple of high-profile biking accidents. The group hoped to make recommendations to the university about biking routes in order to promote safe biking on campus.
In their research for the course, the student group determined that the biggest deterrent to potential bike commuters is the perception that biking is dangerous. They also learned that many of the most bike-friendly campuses in the nation sported one tool that Ohio State lacked – a map to recommend the best biking routes on campus.
This research paid dividends – the group project won the grant, for $4,000, to conduct research on the best routes and create a map of their findings.
The research was conducted over the following year, led in part by student Ian Peters, who spearheaded the grant proposal. Peters was assisted and advised by Rob Osterfeld, who coordinates LEED and Alternative Transportation for Ohio State through the Office of Energy Services and Sustainability. Peters finalized a map by the end of summer 2013, but the OSU operations team decided that the map could be improved by more extensive research.
To involve even more students in the project, Dr. Kristi Lekies, assistant professor in the School of Environment and Natural Resources, and her ENR 2000 statistics class refined and carried out the data collection and analysis. Counting cars, bikes, and pedestrians was a favorite class component for student Graham Oberly, a Natural Resources Management major who took Dr. Lekies class in 2013.
“I can see this data having real world application that can improve the daily safety and interactions of all those involved,” said Oberly, who now works as a student assistant with Ohio State's Office of Energy Services and Sustainability in Facilities Operations and Development.
The data collection for the bike map was also Richard Oldham’s favorite activity from the course. Oldham, a Forestry, Fisheries, and Wildlife major, said it is important “to get some hands-on experience in capturing data”. Tasmia Moulvi, a junior in Environmental Science also liked the data collection for the creation of the bike map and noted, "I just thought it was really neat that the data collected was actually going to be used for a major project.”
Group projects in this class will continue to update biking route recommendations in the future, allowing students to learn data analysis while simultaneously making a positive impact on campus.
Finally, two years after the idea’s inception, a finalized bike route map can be found on a permanent kiosk outside the RPAC.
As a result, there are expected to be more bikers and fewer accidents on campus roads this year.
Author: Laura Kington (firstname.lastname@example.org)