Bicycle Network: Measure & Understand
US census: National Personal Transportation Survey (NPTS)
The common evidence that is regularly put forward to the public comes from expected sources such as Holland, Copenhagen and Germany. But what about other regions whose cycling environment is similar to Australia's?
According to the United States Department of Transportation, 73 percent of adults want new bicycle facilities such as bike lanes, trails, and traffic signals.
Using data from the 1990, 1995, and 2001 Waves of the Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey.
What motivates people to commute by bicycle?
Stangeby and Norheim (2002) asked respondents in Oslo who at least occasionally cycled to work to nominate the three most important reasons for doing so. The responses are summarised in the the two tables, right.
They also asked people to indicate which improvements would be most likely to encourage more people to cycle for transportation
Howard and Burns (2001) compared actual route choices of bicycle commuters in Phoenix, USA with alternatives offering optimal distance, directness, and perceived safety. They found that commuter cyclists tended to choose an optimal balance between the distance, directness and perceived safety. The authors recommended that developers study bicycle route choices (through revealed and stated preference surveys) before building facilities, to ensure that facilities are laid along the optimal route for cyclists and therefore maximise their usage.
Stinson and Bhat (2004) used the Internet to administer a stated preferences survey to 3145 individuals. The survey was advertised to people through 25 cycling-related list-servs and three other list-servs. They found that cyclists, in general, prefer to ride:
· on residential streets in preference to minor arterials
· on streets that disallow parking in preference to streets that allow parallel parking
· on on-road bicycle lanes followed by off-road bicycle paths followed by wide kerbside lanes (in preference to roads with no bicycle facilities)
· on bridges that are not accessible to motor vehicles, followed by bridges with barrier separation, followed by bridges with a cycle lane (in preference to bridges with no bicycle facilities)
· on hilly followed by flat terrain (in preference to mountainous terrain)
· on a smooth sealed surface, followed by a rough sealed surface, followed by coarse sand.
There was a clear preference for continuous facilities and a tendency to avoid routes with traffic controls, especially stop signs. There was also a strong preference for fewer or no major cross streets. The authors hypothesised that the reason that on-road cycle lanes are preferred by cyclists in the USA is probably for their utility, because off-road paths tend to be recreation-oriented and not connected to places of work. Another factor worthy of consideration is the quality and maintenance of bicycle paths. Roads may be preferred because they are continuous, better designed and/or better maintained.
Shafizadeh and Niemeier (1997) found that some respondents would rather bicycle long distances on a bicycle path than shorter distances on a street with traffic.
Morris (2004) used the decennial census data, combined with GIS data, to analyse the factors that attracted people to commute using 18 bicycle trails in the US. In the vicinity of most of the trails, people cycled to work at a rate three times higher than the national average. This supports the contention of Nelson and Allen (1997) that people use bicycle trails more if there are bicycle trails within easy access of their residence.
Note that building a network that provides access to places of work, community services/facilities (for example, library, shops, swimming pool), and residential areas increases the likelihood that the facilities will be used for those purposes. It is also important that trails connect to other trails, have lots of access points and are long enough to capture a substantial number of potential users (Jensen et al. 2000; Guttenplan and Patten 1995).
Jensen et al. (2000) advised that where traffic mixes (i.e. motor vehicles with bicycles and/or bicycles with pedestrians), traffic areas should be self-explanatory in the sense that everyone should know where they should be just from looking at the road.
Snelson et al. (1993) found that utility cyclists were more likely than leisure cyclists to report using on-road bicycle lanes and more likely to say that they would increase their cycling if there were more cycle lanes. Deakin (1985) cited two earlier studies in which survey respondents also said that improved or more extensive bike lanes would induce them to ride more often. Deakin also cited a study showing that cycling to school was more prevalent at schools with ‘bikeways’ than at other schools.