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69 Conclusions and Application of Findings for Decision-Making Traditionally, transportation planning in the United States has been automobile focused, resulting in marginalization of healthy and active modes of transportation such as cycling. This marginalization has contributed to air pollution, increased dependence on fossil fuels, and increased social segregation, as well as an increase in obesity rates, heart disease, and asthma (Sallis et al. 2004). Planning agencies have come to recognize the importance of bicycling as an active mode of travel that can be incorporated into sustainable transportation planning. Many agencies agree that the fuel savings and health care benefits from increased cycling activity can out- weigh monetary investments required for interventions aimed at increasing cycling (Gotschi 2011). Therefore, the question addressed by this study is, what infrastructure investments will be most effective in increasing cycling in communities? The findings reported here largely echo previous studies while adding nuances to the understanding of the effectiveness of investments in bicycle infrastructure. These nuances are important considerations in translating these findings into guidance for infrastructure planning and design. Findings The purpose of this NCHRP project was to investigate how current and potential cyclists respond to different types of cycling facilities and to lay the foundations for quantifying bicycle trips induced by the implementation of bicycle facilities. These interests were studied via a multi- part data collection effort composed of focus groups followed by two waves of a panel survey. Findings were based primarily on analysis of stated preferences and perceptions of the survey sample that included current and potential cyclists together and an investigation on cycling rates. A second-wave survey was also designed to assess how the perceptions, preferences, and cycling rates changed after implementation of various facilities in comparison with those in control neigh- borhoods that did not see such facilities implemented. Treatment communities were located in Anniston, Alabama; Opelika, Alabama; and Chattanooga, Tennessee, while control communities were located in Talladega, Alabama; Northport, Alabama; and Birmingham, Alabama. Focus groups were held in Spring 2016, with two sessions held in each of the three treatment communities. Participants were presented with digitally manipulated images of various roadway configurations and asked to express their reactions based on the bicycle facility type, the number of vehicular lanes, and the presence of on-street parking. Participants were much more positive toward facilities that provided more separation from drivers, with many expressing discomfort and feeling unsafe when forced to interact with motorists. The presence of curbside parking was a major source of discomfort, with some citing concern over car doors opening in bike lanes and others citing concern over drivers cutting through the bike lanes to pull into or out of parking spaces. When prompted to discuss concerns about the number of automobile lanes, there was not C H A P T E R 8
70 Bicyclist Facility Preferences and Effects on Increasing Bicycle Trips as clear of a distinction, with some feeling more stressed by the addition of more traffic, while others felt the extra space would give cyclists and drivers more room to stay out of each otherâs ways. A survey was designed to measure perceptions of and preferences for bicycle facilities, bicy- cling rates, and other pertinent data, and administered in Fall 2016 as a mail-out-mail-back home survey with an online questionnaire available. After data cleaning, there were 1,178 usable survey respondents for the first-wave survey. A second-wave survey was administered after the implementation of the bicycle facilities of interest, with deployment occurring in Spring 2018 in Anniston, Talladega, Opelika, and Northport. Deployment in Chattanooga and Birmingham occurred in Fall 2018 because of delays in the opening of the facilities in Chattanooga. All those who responded to the first-wave survey were invited to participate in the second-wave survey, with 583 usable responses being received. Each respondent was shown six different images of digitally manipulated roadway settings and asked to rate whether bicycling on the displayed road would be comfortable, safe, or some- thing they would try. Respondents rated roadway configurations with higher degrees of sep- aration from motorists as substantially higher for all measures. Configurations with parking were rated lower for all three measures, while ratings for images with additional vehicular lanes were not significantly different. Findings reaffirmed from the literature a negative impact of age on responses and a positive impact of education levels. Women and African Americans were found to generally be less willing to try cycling despite no apparent differences in perceptions of comfort and safety. Those who cycled regularly for transportation (âutilitarianâ) were more likely than other groups to rate all separated facilities as significantly safer than sharrows. The influence of attitudinal constructs on preferences and perceptions was also investigated, with findings indicating that, among others, those who are more dependent on cars, are more stub- born, or perceive cyclists as unsafe gave lower ratings on average, while those who enjoy bicycling, are more open to other travel modes, and are more risk-taking gave higher ratings on average. Slight changes were made to the content of the second-wave survey, including the addition of questions regarding perceptions and recognition of changes in transportation since the first- wave survey. Those in the treatment neighborhoods were much more likely to rate changes in bike safety and the availability and quality of bike lanes/trails as âmuch betterâ than those in the control neighborhoods. Respondents in the treatment neighborhoods were also rather accurate at properly identifying which facility was implemented in their communities, though many reported having seen facilities that were either outside the neighborhood or preceding the study. For those who responded to both waves of the survey, responses between the first and second waves were compared. Respondents in the treatment neighborhoods were found to rate bicy- cling on roads like those presented in the survey as slightly more comfortable and safe, though the magnitude of the differences likely has little practical impact. The number of respondents who made more frequent bike trips was small, though anecdotal evidence from the small sample sizes shows that the bicycle treatments prompted an increase in bicycle commuting. Implications of Findings To guide practitioners in the implementation of these results, the major findings of the study are shown in Table 8.1 with the associated guidance for practice. The results suggest that changing peopleâs minds about bicycling is a necessary step toward getting them to consider bicycling. For example, negative perceptions of cyclists were associ- ated with negative perceptions of infrastructure. To the degree that infrastructure investments improve perceptions of infrastructure, infrastructure could also improve how the population perceives cyclists, which might help individuals think of themselves as potential cyclists. Another negative perception is the link between views of bicycling as exercise and travel as wasted time.
Conclusions and Application of Findings for Decision-Making 71 If individuals can view bicycling as an efficient, effective mode of travel that simultaneously benefits their own health, the environment, the economy, and quality of life, they may value bicycling. Effect of Treatments Respondents were largely aware of the âtreatmentsâ (in the form of new bicycle facilities) and generally liked them. The treatments were associated with change in some perceptions and attitudes but not others: â¢ Treatments were associated with improved perceptions of the community bicycling environ- ment, though the changes in perceptions of safety were smaller than the changes in other perceptions. Finding Guidance for Practice Respondents showed a preference for bicycle facilities with separation from traffic; the highest preference was for separated/protected bicycle lanes (and in some cases, multi-use paths). Make separated/protected bike facilities a priority in bicycle facility planning and design. Parking was a clear deterrent for the roadway types evaluated; parking next to bike lanes was a concern. Protect bicyclists from dooring and parking maneuvers by placing bike lanes with sufficient separation to keep doors from opening into the bicycle facility on the curbside of parking lanes, or remove parking adjacent to bike lanes. Degree of protection/separation mattered more than number of vehicle lanes for roadways with two or four lanes. Provide protected/separated bike lanes, which may offset the negative effects of increased traffic or speed on four-lane roads. Respondents expressed a dislike of multi-use paths in focus groups (despite importance of protection). Provide clear delineations between bicycling and walking lanes on multi-use paths and enough space for all users when a large number of bicyclists and pedestrians are expected to interact. Respondents expressed a discomfort with sharrows, regardless of number of lanes. Limit sharrows to use in situations where they provide short connections or in higher instances of vehicle-bicycle interactions. âUtilitarian cyclistsâ (those traveling for transportation) were different from othersâ parking was less important, protection was more important, safety perceptions were more affected by children. If cycling for transportation is the focus, emphasize protection, with or without parking, especially in areas with families. Older individuals who do not presently bike had lower perceptions of perceived safety, comfort, and willingness to bicycle. Develop targeted educational, outreach, safety, and promotional programs along with infrastructure improvements to improve perceptions among or to investigate the needs of those in these populations with more negative perceptions. Income had a positive impact on measures of perceived safety, comfort, and willingness to bicycle. Female and African American respondents showed lower willingness to try cycling. Attitudes such as being anti-exercise or depending on a car were more important in explaining unwillingness to bicycle than perceived comfort or safety. Develop education and safety outreach programs that encourage positive safety attitudes toward bicycling for all roadway users (bicyclists, motorists, people walking). Table 8.1. Guidance for increasing comfort, safety, and willingness to try.
72 Bicyclist Facility Preferences and Effects on Increasing Bicycle Trips â¢ Treatments were associated with marginal increases in perceived comfort and safety of the hypothetical facilities (as shown in photos), but not with willingness to try bicycling. Given the importance of perceived safety as an influence on bicycling, these findings suggest a role for education and outreach in addition to promotional events in conjunction with the opening of new facilities. Such events could help the community gain not just awareness of the facility, but also understand how to use the new facility, while simultaneously offering a safe and fun way to experience the new facility so as to increase perceived safety. The study, also because of sample size limitations, found only anecdotal evidence of an increase in bicycling after the installation of new bicycling facilities. Although a substantial increase in bicycling would have been one indication of the effectiveness of such investments, the absence of a substantial increase is not an indication of their ineffectiveness. Other indicators such as a reduction in crashes, other safety measures, and increased comfort using the facility are also important measures of effectiveness. As this study was focused on a region of the United States where cycling for transportation is just emerging, results in terms of increases in bicycling may differ if a similar facility were installed in communities where cycling infrastructure is already more prevalent. It is important to keep in mind several points about the methodology used in this study when considering what the findings mean for practice. â¢ Network: The impact of any single facility depends on the role it plays in the larger bicycle network. A short stretch of bike lane that does not connect to other facilities is not likely to attract many new riders (though it may be well used by existing riders). A short stretch of bike lane that fills a gap in an existing bicycle network, on the other hand, could attract many new bicyclists especially if it provides a safe connection for residents to important destinations. The contribution of each new project is likely to increase over time as the network becomes more extensive. A short-term assessment of a facilityâs effect may thus understate its long- term effectiveness and importance. â¢ Incremental change: Although investments in bicycle infrastructure may increase bicycling and improve safety, behavior change often happens over time with consistent education and outreach efforts. New facilities that have a small impact on behavior may trigger changes in perceptions and attitudes that are an essential step toward behavior change. Behavioral theories suggest as much. The Theory of Planned Behavior, for example, posits that percep- tions and attitudes influence behavioral intention, a precursor to behavior itself. A study in Portland shows that the built environment influences bicycling indirectly through its effects on attitudes toward bicycling and perceived behavioral control (Dill et al. 2014). The stages of change model suggests that individuals pass through several phases on their way to behavior change: not even contemplating the behavior, contemplating the behavior change, prepar- ing to change behavior, and taking action to change behavior. Once the individual has taken action, he or she enters the maintenance phase. A study at the University of California, Davis, found that attitudes strongly predicted an individualâs stage (Thigpen et al. 2015). Behavior change is thus unlikely to occur without changes in perceptions and attitudes, and such changes can be seen as a first step toward behavior change. â¢ Data collection: One way to assess the usage impact of a new transportation facility is to count the number of bicyclists using that facility. Although such data collection can be time con- suming, the process is straightforward and the resulting data can be an important measure of the success of the facility. However, this approach provides limited insight into the success of the facility in attracting new bicyclists. Intercept surveys can provide such information, but they do not provide information about people in the area who are not bicycling. Household- based surveys with samples that represent a cross-section of the community, such as the survey used in this study, are important for assessing the whole picture: not just who is using
Conclusions and Application of Findings for Decision-Making 73 the new facility and who is not using it, but also who is aware of the facility and how it has changed their perceptions and attitudes toward bicycling. But a cross-section of households in the community is likely to include few bicyclists and even fewer individuals who adopted bicycling in response to the new facility. Bicycle counts on the new facility will generally yield the most impressive results, at least on the surface, but a household survey will provide the greatest insights into its impacts (Krizek et al. 2009b). Conducting periodic surveys after more major changes in the network can allow a community to assess changes in awareness, percep- tions, and attitudes over longer periods of time. Further Use of Study Materials As articulated in the literature review, quasi-experimental studies on bicycle facility imple- mentation have been rare. A before-and-after survey such as the one conducted in this study is one way to understand the implications of a facility beyond simply bicycle volume counts over time. Facilities are often constructed with no evaluation whatsoever, thus limiting the under- standing of the impacts of facilities on cycling behavior. Bicycle volume counts can represent facility usage, but they cannot assess preferences for bicycling facilities, community perceptions of the infrastructure, attitudes about cycling, and changes in cycling trips attributed to the infra- structure itself. Ideally, a before-and-after survey such as the one presented here can be paired with bicycle volume counts across the facility and neighboring roadways to understand increases in volume, as well as user characteristics and community acceptance of the facility. This study included only a handful of locations from one broad geographic region. To understand the wide applicability of results to other communities, similar surveys should be implemented elsewhere as treatments are constructed. Similarly, surveys can be used to under- stand the expansion of the results presented here to other forms of bicycle infrastructure, such as intersection treatments and varying forms of protected/separated facilities along segments. The focus group materials and surveys used in this study were written for general application in other locations and can be found in the appendices of this report. These materials have already been used by the authors on an extension of this same project in Atlanta and by Sanders and Judelman (2018) in Michigan. To request more information on these materials, visit the NCHRP Project 08-102 web page at https://apps.trb.org/cmsfeed/TRBNetProjectDisplay.asp? ProjectID=3861. Such studies of bicycle infrastructure are best implemented byâor in partnership withâthe city, county, regional, or state entity in charge of constructing the facility. One of the biggest challenges in this study was coordination and communication with each treatment community to ensure the surveys were timed to occur before and after the construction timeline. The materials provided include those from the focus groups, the first-round (before) survey, and the second-round (after) survey. Other researchers and agencies are encouraged to use the materials and share their data with the study team over time to develop a larger database of survey results. Each of these components can be used on their own or in coordination with each other: â¢ The focus groups can give some perspective about desired facilities in a forum. Here, researchers can ask participants follow-up questions to gain greater understanding regarding perceptions. â¢ The before survey is ideally paired with the after survey to measure response to types of bicycle infrastructure after a treatment. However, the before survey can be used alone to understand preferences for cycling infrastructure in a community, mode choices, and atti- tudes toward cycling. â¢ The after survey can also be used alone to evaluate response to facilities that have been constructed and general preferences for bicycle infrastructure.
74 Bicyclist Facility Preferences and Effects on Increasing Bicycle Trips Focus Groups Presentation materials from the focus groups are provided as Appendix A. To request more information on these materials, including how to get them in editable format, visit the NCHRP Project 08-102 web page at https://apps.trb.org/cmsfeed/TRBNetProjectDisplay.asp?Project ID=3861. The study team has the following recommendations for focus groups: â¢ If agency or organizational policy allows compensation or incentives, participants should be compensated for their time. In this study, participants were given $40 in cash and refresh- ments (drinks, lunch, or substantial snacks) were provided. â¢ The time allotted should be enough for researchers to make meaningful use of participantsâ time in coming to the location, but not so excessive as to limit participation. Focus groups for this study were limited to 1.5 hours and held twice per day in each location at lunch and at 5:00 p.m. â¢ Participants can be recruited via social media channels such as community pages (Facebook, Nextdoor), parentsâ groups, and local cycling groups. This study sought help from each com- munity to find the applicable groups and used social media advertising to identify additional participants. â¢ Recruitment and identification of participants should encourage varying demographics, including wide representation of current or potential cyclists, genders, ages, races and ethnicities, households with children, and other factors important to the community. Current cyclists should be oversampled for such focus groups to understand their point of view, but potential cyclists should also be included to understand barriers to cycling. â¢ The focus group size should be large enough to warrant the time of those involved, but small enough to allow all members present time to express their ideas. This study aimed for focus groups with 10 participants. The recruitment text was as follows: Do you wish it were more convenient to ride your bike for your regular tasks? Do you bike for fun once in a while, but worry about bicycling more because of traffic? Do you wish your kids had safe routes to bike around town? The Georgia Institute of Technology is conducting research on the barriers and benefits of bicycling in your town. We want to hear your opinions and concerns about bicycling. You may be eligible to participate in one of two 90-minute focus groups to be held on DATE at noon or 5:00 p.m. at LOCATION. One group will be for residents who do not cycle or cycle infrequently and another will be for residents who already cycle more than two days per month. Please contact NAME at E-MAIL or PHONE to be considered for participation in these focus groups. Participants will be compensated $40 for their time and refreshments will be provided. Before Survey The before survey is available as Appendix B of this report. To request more information on this survey, including how to get it in editable format, visit the NCHRP Project 08-102 web page at https://apps.trb.org/cmsfeed/TRBNetProjectDisplay.asp?ProjectID=3861. The study team intends to track use of the survey over time to enable further combination of the results across communities. Other researchers and agencies are encouraged to use the material and share their data with the study team. The study team has the following recommendations for the before survey: â¢ The survey was designed through extensive writing, debating, rewriting, and pretesting to identify and refine survey questions. Any additional questions should be subject to similar scrutiny to ensure adequate results. â¢ The survey instrument takes approximately 30 minutes to complete, balancing a thorough data set with limited time commitment from participants. Survey content was purposefully
Conclusions and Application of Findings for Decision-Making 75 broader than cycling to ensure that participants remained interested and did not quit the survey if they did not recognize themselves as the âbicycling type.â Similar studies may want to shorten the survey but should continue to include questions broader than just those about cycling to attempt to achieve an unbiased response. â¢ Ideally, surveys should be mailed to households, so that access to the Internet is not a barrier to participation. In this study, addresses were purchased from a targeted marketing company. Local entities may already have a more logical database of resident addresses. Postcard invi- tations that included a URL to take the survey online were attempted, but the response rate was low. A full printed version of the survey along with a prepaid return envelope ensures a higher response rate. â¢ Paper surveys must be entered (coded) properly to ensure accuracy. In this case, each paper survey was entered twice, and the two data sets were compared to ensure no coding errors were introduced in data entry. Online data must also be checked to ensure that survey pro- gram results are in an appropriate format for analysis. â¢ Data cleaning should include the removal of unfinished surveys and those with a low portion of questions answered. After Survey The after survey is available as Appendix C of this report. To request more information on this survey, including how to get it in editable format, visit the NCHRP Project 08-102 web page at https://apps.trb.org/cmsfeed/TRBNetProjectDisplay.asp?ProjectID=3861. Again, the study team requests that use of the survey be facilitated through them, so they can track use and combine results across communities and over time. The study team has the following recom- mendations for the after survey: â¢ Again, any new questions added to the survey should be subject to a high level of scrutiny to ensure adequate results. Also, similar to the before survey, paper surveys must be entered (coded) properly to ensure accuracy. â¢ If e-mail addresses are requested in the before survey, the after survey can use these e-mail addresses to send electronic versions to participants directly. This can increase response rate and prevent some data entry requirements. Ideally, after surveys would still be mailed to households that do not respond after an e-mail or to anyone who does not provide an e-mail address. â¢ An incentive mailed to respondents halfway between the before and after surveys can ensure that they remember their participation and remain interested in the study. In this study, an incentive of $2 was mailed to all respondents of both waves of the survey. In the letter for the before survey, respondents were told that the incentive would be mailed to them to encourage their participation. Unique incentives (such as a local coupon for a free treat or a $2 bill rather than two $1 bills) can be low cost, while still encouraging participation. A coupon for a free treat at a local store was explored as an incentive for this study, but was not pursued long term because obtaining valid coupons was difficult in some locations. Responses to after surveys are generally high, so incentives could be mailed with the survey itself rather than in an additional mailing after responses are received. â¢ The study team recommends that the before and after surveys are both sent in the same time of year, ideally 6 months before and 6 months after a project will be implemented. For larger projects, the timeline could be 1 year before and 1 year after. Adequate time must be allowed so that the before survey is done before construction begins. Similarly, the after survey should be late enough that residents have time to notice and experience the new facility. In this study, matching the timeline for three projects was one of the most problematic components. Coordination will be easier when the survey is administered by a local entity. If the survey cannot be sent at the same time of year, seasonality should be controlled for. As an example, conducting a survey in the South in the spring and fall is appropriate, as bike
76 Bicyclist Facility Preferences and Effects on Increasing Bicycle Trips volumes are similar in both seasons, but conducting a survey in winter and summer would not be appropriate. â¢ Again, data cleaning should include the removal of unfinished surveys and those with a low portion of questions answered. Some follow-up responses received via the mail may be filled out by a different respondent than the first invitation. These responses should be identified using sociodemographic questions and excluded from any analysis of change. â¢ Finally, evaluation programs that involve multiple surveys should be focused on larger sets of improvements and a longer period of time, such as 5 to 10 years of monitoring and evalua- tions, to assess community-scale impacts.