Development of Pedestrian and Bicycle Transportation Course Modules

PI: Daniel Rodriguez, Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Co-PI:  Rod Turochy, Ph.D., Auburn University

Course Website

Final Report

UTC Project Information

According to a 2012 report by the Alliance for Biking and Walking, crashes involving bicyclists and/or pedestrians account for almost 15% of all traffic crashes. The states that house STRIDE consortium universities, including Florida, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, and Mississippi, are among the top seven states with the highest pedestrian and bicyclist fatality rates in the nation. Training the next generation of planners and engineers to consider pedestrian and bicyclist needs is critical to addressing safety and livability concerns and creating more balanced, integrated, and efficient transportation systems.

Despite increasing recognition and emerging evidence regarding the importance of walking and bicycling for livability and sustainability, and the need to address safety issues for these road users, these topics are not often covered in traditional transportation courses at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Although offering a semester-long course on pedestrians and bicycles is increasingly popular, one barrier limiting its adoption is the difficulty of adding a whole new course to a curriculum and staffing it. One way to address this limitation is to prepare materials for short mini-courses that can be incorporated into existing courses. This overcomes the need to teach a new extra course, while making sure that key concepts are well-covered. It also enhances the likelihood of adoption of a module for an introductory course.

We propose the development and evaluation of three short teaching modules on planning and design for pedestrians and bicyclists for undergraduate students. Each module will include: a) a Powerpoint file; and b) narrative accompanying the Powerpoint. The third module will also contain a mini exercise or capstone case, bringing together the concepts presented in the three previous modules. A student exercise will be created to engage the students in applying and practicing the concepts taught in the lectures. The aim is that a faculty member can choose between one, two, or all three modules. Each module can be taught in 1 to 1.25 hours, with later modules building on earlier modules. Although constraints for class time are great, we would encourage faculty to use more than one module, as this would allow deeper learning objectives to be met – moving students further up established learning taxonomies. The modules will be presented and then evaluated by students at Auburn University enrolled in the junior-level introductory course, Transportation Engineering, and improvements will be made to the modules based on the feedback received.

The three short modules will be developed by a team at UNC-Chapel Hill. Evaluation of the modules will be done collaboratively at Auburn University’s Department of Civil Engineering. The proposal developed is interdisciplinary and inter-institutional. Civil Engineering, Planning, Epidemiology and Health, and Public Policy are disciplines represented by team members by faculty, staff, and a student at UNC and Auburn University.

This grant contributes to the achievement of objectives for STRIDE, its constituent states, the US DOT, and private and professional organizations interested in livability and safety for all road users. It is a timely project that relies on the growing evidence-base regarding the importance of pedestrian and bicycle mobility in achieving metropolitan sustainability.