What You Should Know
Whether you live near or far from Columbia's campus, in New York or outside of the city, the energy you expend on your daily transportation can have a strong impact on the environment. Riding a bike to work, using public transportation, or using a car only when you need it are some excellent ways to reduce the impact of your day-to-day travel.
We know that America's huge fleet of automobiles contributes heavily to global warming by expelling large amounts of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. A 2004 report from the Environmental Defense Fund states that the average 2-car family contributes 10 tons of pollution to the greenhouse gas layer—over 20,000 pounds of CO2. These gases work to insulate the earth, preventing heat and radiation from escaping through the atmosphere. Future consequences of climate change will mean drastic changes all over the world, including drought, flooding, and a re-alignment of many food-production regions.
At a more local level, it is clear that automobile emissions have worked with other environmental pollutants to reduce air quality here in Harlem. Northern Manhattan, and Harlem in particular, have some of the highest asthma rates in the entire city. Living in a neighborhood with poor air quality can lead to a host of problems, including a higher likelihood for asthma in area children. In fact, according to a 2004 study, asthma has become the primary cause of emergency room visits and hospitalizations in New York's poorest neighborhoods. Reducing our collective automobile emissions is one large step towards improving air quality for those of us who live, work, and study in Harlem on a day-to-day basis.
Visitors to Columbia University might notice an absence of massive parking lots compared to many other nationwide schools. Columbia's is a pedestrian campus. Most buildings are within walking distance, and all others are accessible by bike or by public transportation. Most people live on or around the University. In fact, the Columbia Medical Center has made a point of reducing vehicle commuting by offering extremely limited parking space. In these ways, we discourage unsustainable transportation practices and manage to have a closer community and a more visually appealing campus. Still, there are ways for Columbia associates to continue to reduce their carbon emissions by relying on a wide variety of sustainable transportation options.
How You Can Help
- Bike to school or work. Here's a map showing bike rack locations at the Morningside campus.
- Public Safety provides some helpful resources for bike riders. These include maps and discounted bike locks that can be purchased both on the main campus and through the medical center.
- New York City Government has made a strong effort in recent years to make New York more bike-friendly, by including more bike lanes and building/rebuilding bike paths—including a beautiful path along the Hudson River that stretches almost the length of the island. The Department of Transportation is involved in many of these biking initiatives, including events like Bike Month and programs such as 'Bikes in Buildings'. The DOT website offers information about these initiatives and more—including a goal of tripling bicycle commuting over the next 7 years!
- Human Resources has a number of tips and recommendations for more efficient transportation, including carpooling information.
- By using Zipcar, you can ensure access to a car whenever you need it without the waste that goes into manufacturing orstoring a new vehicle. Essentially, Zipcar allows you to share a car with hundreds of other people and still use it whenever you need it .
- Columbia's Worklife Bulletin Board offers some helpful ways to coordinate transportation, including a forum devoted to carpooling. It also has forums dedicated to housing, childcare, health/wellness, and more!
- All Columbia affiliates (student, staff, and faculty) have access to a network of free shuttle buses that travel from campus to campus. For Columbia personnel and students, there are additional shuttles that travel as far as the Medical Center, Fort Lee, and the George Washington Bridge bus terminal. These shuttles are fast, free, and convenient. They provide an additional environmentally-friendly public transportation option for University affiliates in a rush.
- Most importantly, continue to use public transportation whenever possible! Finding a route is easy, and most of these options are cheaper and quicker than driving. A parking ticket in Manhattan can cost $150—a subway fare is only $2.25, or $89 for unlimited rides for a month. Whether you are commuting from outer boroughs, from New Jersey, or from elsewhere in New York State, there are trains and buses available that are convenient and will allow you to leave your car at home.
How to Get to Columbia University From...
- Within the city (Morningside Campus): The train stops right outside of Columbia's morningside campus. The and trains also stop within walking distance, on 116th street and 8th avenue. The M4, M5, M11, M60, and M104 buses also service the neighborhood.
- Within the city (Medical Center): Take the , , or trains to the 168th Street station. The M2, M3, M4, M5, and M100 buses also service the medical center.
- New Jersey: New Jersey Transit offers a number of commuter trains into Penn Station, with multiple trains leaving every hour. These trains are comfortable, clean, fast, and convenient.
- Upstate New York: Use the Metro North Railroad to commute from upstate into the city. The Harlem line goes as far north as Wassaic, while the New Haven line goes as far as Waterbury, Connecticut. These lines enter into Grand Central Station. As with New Jersey Transit, they provide an economical way to travel while avoiding the hassle of a crowded daily drive.
- For more specific instructions, Hopstop.com can help you map your route whether you are beginning within the city or from outside. Just enter 116th Street and Broadway as your destination address!