Lily Verren, Campus Carrier staff writer
Students that drive and students that cycle, skate or walk have a different experience living on campus. There are health benefits to the latter three, but Berry dignifies itself upon its natural beauty. Being surrounded by pavement in the McAllister parking lot and cars along Opportunity Drive is hardly what Berry advertises.
On top of that, the available parking space is not enough. Students complaining about the lack of convenient parking neglect to acknowledge the result of a parking expansion. As parking lots expand, students will feel incentivized to bring their cars to campus, which will perpetuate the problem. The concept of ‘induced demand,’ where increased supply leads to increased demand, applies to transportation planning and traffic here.
An increase in parking lot space would have no noticeable impact on the accessibility of convenient parking while still diminishing the natural beauty of Berry’s campus. According to the article “Parking Infrastructure and the Environment” by Mikhail Chester, Arpad Horvath and Samer Madanat, professors of civil and environmental engineering, parking lots may have a greater environmental impact than cars.
Most Americans agree that parking lots are an eyesore. There is nothing appealing about walking across a paved desert while keeping an eye out for distracted drivers, especially in the spring and summer months when that pavement turns into a hot plate.
Unfortunately, cars are currently a necessity for many students. Some students have mobility-related disabilities that make walking or biking around campus impossible. Some work off-campus. Some would like something to do on the weekends when the library is closed and there’s few secular activities.
Cyclists and pedestrians are confined to the campus’ roads. In an emergency, students without a car could likely make it to a store nearby, but in any normal circumstance, the highway is a deterrent.
Without a regular route to Rome proper, students without cars must rely on others to make it off-campus. A shuttle between the campus and downtown would do a world of good. Alternatively, sponsoring the creation of sidewalks or bike lanes alongside Martha Berry Highway could help.
Increasing the accessibility of Rome could be a step to mitigate the suitcase school problem that currently hits the college every weekend. Anyone staying on campus over the weekend can observe the eerie emptiness. On one hand, it’s the one time for students that enjoy the outdoors to experience peace and quiet on campus. Cars are one of the primary noise pollutants to the natural environment in Berry.
Students left behind over the weekends can easily become stir-crazy. A contributing factor of college depression is a feeling of being trapped. If Berry is unable or unwilling to create a better connection to downtown, then sponsoring more events over the weekend, supporting exercise and nature-based campus exploration or opening the library on Saturdays would mitigate the stillness that sets in over the weekend.
More cars for students is not the solution to a problem that arose from the overreliance on cars. Public transportation or the creation of pedestrian- and cyclist-accessible infrastructure is the ideal solution, but any way that the college can create more opportunities for students to connect with the community around them is a step in the right direction.