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Bikes now outnumber cars on EPFL's campus

© EPFL/Murielle Gerber

© EPFL/Murielle Gerber

The surprise result of EPFL’s 2016 Mobility Survey is that, for the first time, the campus has more bikes than cars in its parking lots. This is the result of more than 10 years of efforts to promote eco-friendly transport, as well as an increase in parking fees.

Bikes take up less space and don’t make any noise… and they’re gaining in popularity! For the first time since 2003, when EPFL started to analyze how students and staff get to and from campus, bikes now outnumber cars. 2,489 versus 2,288, to be precise. According to EPFL’s Sustainable Campus team, which conducted and analyzed the 2016 survey, this is a meaningful development that corroborates efforts to promote sustainable transport.

“In 2014, the number of people using eco-friendly transports was higher than the number of car users,” said Luca Fontana, who handles mobility-related questions on campus. “Now this trend is borne out in absolute figures.” According to the latest study, cycling and walking gained 1.4% and 1.2%, respectively, between 2015 and 2016. The survey had 3,582 respondents – a quarter of all staff and students.

Higher parking fees in 2016 led to a 1.66% decrease in the number of people who commute to campus by car. “This mainly concerns staff members, since the number of parking spaces for students is extremely limited,” added Fontana.

Public transport also saw a decline in use (-0.8%). Rush-hour crowds have something to do with this. As does the construction work on the Renens train station and the fact that inter-city trains no longer stop there. At the same time, the number of people with a public transport pass is falling, especially among those who use several means of transport on a daily basis or as a function of the weather. More than one out of 10 commuters opts for a combination of transports, a solution that offers greater flexibility.

This year, for the first time, the Mobility Survey looks at commuter behavior at EPFL's other campuses. These figures now establish a baseline.

“These results encourage us to further expand the measures we use to support the Mobility Plan,” said Philippe Vollichard, who is in charge of Sustainable Campus. And there certainly is room for improvement. For example, in terms of support for those who use public transport or carpooling: 40% of students said that they could carpool, but only 6% do it. Among staff, 33% of respondents say they could carpool, while only 2.5% actually do.

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