Get around campus: Transportation options

College is the perfect time to get creative in ways to navigate your way around campus and town.

College is the perfect time to get creative in ways to navigate your way around campus and town.

College life is about getting around. Traveling between the dorms, gym, classrooms, library, and student union can be quite far, especially if your college is large and has multiple campuses. You also want to go into town or home to see Mom. Car, bike, bike rental, public transportation, the campus shuttle and walking are all available to you. Here are some do-it-yourself tips for finding your way around.

Walk – The first choice, obviously. Although you’ll be stiff and tired the first week, you’ll get used to it. Walking everywhere will keep you in good shape and you can meet people and chat along the way.

Escorts – If you ever feel insecure walking around campus at night, ask your college if they offer police, campus security, or TAs or RAs who will accompany you. If not, get some friends to walk with you.

Car – Having your own car may be convenient, but consider the expense. There’s gas, insurance, oil changes, upkeep, security. Most campuses have a student parking area.  Some spots are daily or by the hour. Watch out for parking tickets!

Note: Many colleges ban freshmen from bringing cars to campus. “Reducing the number of cars on campus, strengthening the variety and number of social activities available to students, and offering alternate methods of transportation,” plus having freshmen “focus on academics and integrate themselves into the campus community” are some of the reasons, according to the Freshman Parking Policy at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.

Carpool – A tried and true method. Get some friends together to go into town for groceries, to the clubs or tonight’s concert. Always offer to chip in for gas.

Hitchhiking – Don’t. Seriously.

Bike – This is an economical and popular choice. Bikes cost less than a car to maintain and use. They fit in your dorm room. Bike racks are all over campus, and some schools offer bicycle repair kits. “The University of New England and Ripon College in Wisconsin are giving free bikes to freshmen who promise to leave their cars at home…The goal, college and university officials said, is to ease critical shortages of parking and to change the car culture that clogs campus roadways and erodes the community feel that comes with walking or biking around campus,” wrote Katie Zezima in “With Free Bikes, Challenging Car Culture on Campus” posted on October 19, 2008.

More and more campuses are offering bike paths and trails. Plus, you get the benefit of exercise. Be careful on crowded city streets. Wear a helmet and follow the rules of the road for safe bike travel. Always lock up your bike if you’re leaving it outside.

Bike rental – Vanderbilt University offers Re{cycle}, its on-campus, student-run bicycle rental business: “Re{cycle} enhances riders’ experiences providing a community of bikers, saving students money, and allowing them to explore Nashville daily for an affordable price.” They offer a variety of bikes, have a maintenance team on campus, sell accessories and let you pay online.

Campus shuttle – Some large campuses such as University of California at Berkeley offer shuttle services around campus running on 30-minute intervals. They are usually free to students with a pass or cost a nominal fee per ride or per week/month.

Public transportation – For a ride into town, check out the local bus or subway schedule. If your campus is in town, you likely have a stop right at the entrance to your college. Check if bicycles are allowed on the bus. Public transportation typically gives a discount pass to students with a college ID. And they usually offer an app with valuable information such as their schedule, routes, fares, driving times, delays and traffic.

Electric scooter or Segway –  These are an option if you don’t mind a few funny stares. They are more expensive to buy, and there’s the increased risk of theft. But hey, you can wave at your fellow students trudging up a big hill as you ride by.

How do you get around campus?

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