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Analyzing safety toward a walkable campus: a case-study of Middle East Technical University (METU)

Rashidi, Soghra
Walkable places are one of the most common features of sustainable, vibrant and healthy cities in the world. Building walkable cities can be a strategy to mitigate some of the problems related to sustainability. As a part of a city, university campus sites provide learning, working and sometimes living environments where mobility and pedestrian walkability should be considered as important design factors to achieve sustainable urban environments. Walkable environments should be the spaces which provide campus users with easy access to the networks of connected facilities, and a sense of safety. This research studies the walkability capacity of the Middle East Technical University (METU) campus, a large, well-established Turkish state university in Ankara, with about 28,000 students, 2,318 academic staff and 7,348 temporary residents. It focuses on the safety and security issues regarding the physical features, sense of safety, and traffic safety of the university campus. The research employed a single case study method, by using a questionnaire survey of 240 users in six different zones, direct observation, archival studies and spatial analyses. The findings of the analyses on METU campus show that the campus users in general perceive the METU campus as walkable, although they see safety and security as the prominent problem against its walkability capacity. In addition to this, the lack of connectivity in some parts of the campus, drivers’ careless use of cars, the inadequate quality and width of pedestrian paths, insufficient lighting, and flocks of dog are the major obstacles affecting the safety and security, thereby the quality of the walkability on the university campus. The sustainability principles of urban space, i.e. inclusiveness, equality and social justice, are also endangered by the lack of sufficient concern for people with different abilities. This research suggests design and management recommendations to improve the safety and security, and thus enhances the walkability capacity of the campus.