Campus walking has not only been cemented (no pun intended) in Viscan culture but also in other universities the world over. Science concludes that people are willing to walk as far as 400 meters or more if they are given the proper environment that encourages them to do so. Opting to participate in this physical activity is beneficial to the health of individuals as they are encouraged to exercise; it does not produce a carbon footprint; it transports one to their destination free of charge; and one may even gain a sense of community in walking (such as when you meet a colleague on the same path and you create a productive conversation).
Since the discussion around the appeal of walking has been circulating, it inevitably invites the question: what deems a location walkable, and in our case, as university students, a campus?
Walkability in Campus Setting
Cervero & Kockelman’s 1997 study on the factors that affect the behavior of walking was cited by Vikas Mehta in 2013, which analyzes pedestrian behavior, perceptions, and attitudes. The study claims that a person is motivated to walk based on the factors that affect their environment which are: density, diversity, and design. Simply called the “Three Ds”, the theory has been referred to in numerous papers to correlate walkability and determine such by the density of the population/development, the diversity of the land-use mix, and the design of the local environment.
The “Three Ds” theory is synonymous with the claims of other papers that were cited in research on campus walkability at Wuhan University in 2022. Attributes that were cited also took into account safety, efficiency, affordability, sustainability, aesthetics, and proximity/accessibility (which, according to the theory, would be in the design factor); density factor in terms of proximity/accessibility; and aesthetics (diversity).
Similarly, other walkability assessment research found that students and faculties are encouraged to participate in walking if they are given: appropriate sidewalks free from obstructions; easy access to amenities for recreation such as benches and tables; visually-pleasing architecture or art; an even sidewalk, which includes the consistency of the pavement; and most of all, the proximity of the destination, which, in summation, is still in line with Cervero & Kockelman’s theory.
Is VSU Walkable?
Since the majority of the university population are students that do not own personal vehicles, public transport or walking is the most practical option. The latter is to be expected according to the campus culture of VSU, and as the university website claims: the campus is “pedestrian-friendly”.
Yet, a loop transportation system powered by biodiesel, namely Tuyok, was introduced in the second semester of 2018 to serve students, faculty, and staff dealing with long distances and the elevation of the walk on their way to their classes and/or work. While the system was expected to impose minimal fares starting in January of the same year for transportation and labor costs, the consistency of transport service was not observed. If there were any services rendered, it was only done occasionally, mostly on special events.
The recent University Supreme Student Council (USSC) election for Academic Year 2023-2024 opened the conversation on the lack of a reliable and consistent transportation system. Amaranth asked the running candidates about their stance on this issue, to which the standard-bearers of the parties that ran had similar views: resume and revive the Tuyok transport system. But as that plea has not yet been realized, the non-vehicle-owning students would have to resort to walking for now as the only option for mobility.
So with this in mind, it would be easy to ask if walking should be retained as the main source of transportation on the campus. Interestingly, this question is still debatable, as the walking culture that has been bestowed upon the members of the university through generations does not automatically equate to walkability. The findings of the studies mentioned are based on areas that exhibit vastly different geographical features and other factors that cannot be directly translated to our university. Walkability will have to be explored on our campus through research, or even, a comprehensive analysis or opinion.
What do you think? Is VSU a walkable campus?