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1 The purpose of this NCHRP research report is to outline how current and potential cyclists perceive different types of bicycling facilities and to lay the foundations for quan- tifying bicycle trips induced by the implementation of bicycle facilities. Previous research focused on places where bicycling is more prevalent, which leaves a major gap in studying the emergence of bicycling for transportation. Therefore, this study takes place in the Southeast United States, where cycling is less prevalent. Data for the analyses in this report come from focus groups followed by a before-and-after panel survey. The study includes three âtreatmentâ neighborhoods (Anniston, Alabama; Opelika, Alabama; and Chattanooga, Tennessee) in which bicycling facilities were scheduled to be opened in the study period, and three âcontrolâ neighborhoods (Talladega, Alabama; Northport, Alabama; and Birmingham, Alabama) in which no bicycling facilities were planned to open over the same time frame. The scope of this report is explained in Chapter 1, along with a summary of past literature on bicycling facilities. The literature gives strong evidence of a positive relationship between the presence of bicycle facilities and the frequency of bicycle trips. However, research in this NCHRP project was designed to meet several research gaps, such as relating bicycle facility effectiveness to bicycle facility type and roadway characteristics, and including both cur- rent and potential cyclists. The methodology for this study is outlined in Chapter 2, along with a comparison of commonly executed research designs for similar studies. This study is novel in its multi-stage data collection effort, beginning with focus groups followed by a mail-home survey then a second-wave mail-home survey, allowing for a rigorous before- and-after-with-controls experimental design. The focus groups provided valuable perspective on their own regarding preferences among cyclists and potential cyclists, and were also used to refine the survey for later stages of the project. Findings from the focus groups are outlined in Chapter 3. Partici- pants expressed concerns about lack of comfort and safety based on interaction with automobile users and expressed preference for more separated facilities and separation from on-street parking. A two-wave survey was then conducted among the general pub- lic to understand perceptions among potential cyclists, rather than just those already using bikes for transportation or recreation. The first-wave survey evaluated personal attitudes, preferences, and behaviors before the opening of planned bicycle facilities. A second-wave survey was also administered to all respondents from the first-wave survey to assess changes in these factors, particularly for perceptions of and preferences for bicycle facilities and frequency of bicycling. The survey samples for the first and second waves are described in Chapter 4. The response rate for the first wave was 5.2% (N = 1,223), while the response rate for the second wave (among only those who had already responded to the first wave) was 48% (N = 583). S U M M A R Y Bicyclist Facility Preferences and Effects on Increasing Bicycle Trips
2 Bicyclist Facility Preferences and Effects on Increasing Bicycle Trips Analyses on the first-wave survey focus on responses to digitally manipulated images of roadways varying in (1) bicycle facility type, (2) presence of on-street parking, and (3) number of vehicular lanes, and are detailed in Chapter 5. Results confirm focus group findings of a preference toward separated bicycle facilities and away from on-street parking. Analyses also address the impact of sociodemographics, cycling frequency, and attitudinal factors on perceptions of and preferences for bicycle facilities. Second-wave survey data are explored in Chapter 6. These analyses focus on perceptions and recognition of changes in transportation in the community. These analyses show strong evidence that the bike-facility treatments prompted perceptions of improvement in bike safety, as well as quality and availability of bike lanes and trails. Last, responses for both survey waves are compared in Chapter 7. Perceptions of comfort and safety were slightly higher on average for those in the treatment communities (places where bicycling facilities had been constructed), though the effects seem to be rather small. Only a few respon- dents had bicycled more frequently. Yet within this small sample, those in the treatment neighbor hoods were much more likely to increase their frequency as compared with those in the control neighborhoods. In summary, the major findings from this research include two major outcomes present in both the focus group and the survey: â¢ Respondents rated facilities having a higher degree of separation from drivers more positively, with protected/separated bike lanes and multi-use paths being the best. â¢ Parking was a clear deterrent for comfort, perceived safety, and willingness to bicycle. In some cases, the number of traffic lanes was a deterrent but in others, it did not affect comfort, safety, or willingness to bicycle. Protected/separated bike lanes were effective in reducing the negative effects of roadway characteristics. Additional findings from the focus groups indicated the following: â¢ Perceived risk from moving vehicle collisions and adjacent parked cars was a major factor in potential cyclistsâ willingness to use facilities, with substantial concern about unsafe driver behavior (which may be more prevalent in places without a dominant bicycling culture). Inattentive drivers, aggressive drivers, and dooring were of particular concern. â¢ Buffered bicycle lanes and protected/separated bicycle lanes with a physical barrier such as bollards or planters were all viewed as substantially improving comfort. But even basic bike lanes were reassuring, provided they were not adjacent to car parking. â¢ When curbed parking was introduced immediately adjacent to the bicycle lane, perceived comfort plummeted and only recovered with adequate buffering to place the bike lane outside the door zone or with physical separation from parked cars and the door zone. â¢ Participants generally preferred more intuitive bicycling facilities. Finally, the analysis of the survey data highlighted the following: â¢ Demographic characteristics were significant in modeling respondentsâ perceptions of being comfortable, safe, and willing to try bicycling. Female and African American survey respondents tended to express a lower âwillingness to tryâ than others. Older individuals (65+) tended to express lower perceived comfort and safety, and even lower âwillingness to try.â Survey results showed that age was a deterrent for those in the potential cyclist group; however, age did not have a significant effect among current cyclist groups (recreation and utilitarian) and those unable to bike. â¢ Perceptions of infrastructure characteristics differed substantially based on bicycling frequency. Those who travel by bike for transportation (âutilitarian cyclistsâ) overwhelm- ingly viewed separated facilities as safer than sharrows, even more so than other survey respondent groups (recreational, potential, and unable to bike). However, as opposed to
Summary 3 other survey respondent groups, utilitarian cyclists were less likely to express discomfort over the presence of parking. Occasional/recreational cyclistsâ preferences were surprisingly similar to those of potential cyclists, with no significant difference for perceived comfort and safety. â¢ People exposed to new bicycle facilities, such as bike lanes, noticed the improvements regardless of their use of the facilities. These people also perceived improvements in terms of bicycle safety, facility quality, and facility availability in their communities at higher rates than people in other communities did. Respondents were fairly accurate at properly identifying which facilities were implemented in their community, but they tended to report seeing a treatment that either preceded the study or occurred in a nearby neighborhood. â¢ Few local residents report having used a new bicycle facility in the cases surveyed here, with a 6-month to 1-year time frame. This is an indication that even when facilities are noticed and prompt a perception of increased bikeability, projects that do not substan- tially expand a communityâs bicycle network, such as those covered in this study, should not necessarily be expected to cause a strong increase in bicycling. â¢ The number of respondents who had changed their bicycling frequency between the first and second waves was rather small. Among the respondents who did, more increased their bicycling frequency in the treatment neighborhoods (though the sample sizes were too small to support meaningful statistical analyses). With regard to implementation, practitioners can take away several points: â¢ Protect and separate bicyclists from automobiles in bicycle facility planning and design to improve perceptions of safety and comfort. â¢ Protect bicyclists from perceived safety issues regarding dooring and parking maneu- vers 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. â¢ Provide protected/separated bike lanes to offset the negative effects of increased traffic or speed on four-lane roads. â¢ Provide clear delineations between bicycling and walking lanes on multi-use paths and enough space for all users when many bicyclists and pedestrians are expected to interact. â¢ Limit sharrows to situations in which they provide short connections or in which higher instances of vehicle-bicycle interactions are likely. â¢ Put more focus on protection and separation when cycling for transportation is the focus, with or without parking, especially in areas with families. â¢ Develop educational and promotional programs and use them for outreach in order to instill positive attitudes and address negative attitudes, thus increasing willingness to bicycle among all demographics. Attitudes such as being anti-exercise or depending on a car were found to explain lower levels of willingness to bicycle. â¢ Conduct promotional events that include educational and outreach components in con- junction with the opening of new facilities to ensure awareness within the community and to offer a safe and fun way to experience the new facilities. â¢ Remember that a single facility, depending on its role within the overall network, may have limited impact on cycling frequency within the community. Conduct evaluations of new facilities that include the use of surveys repeated over time. Household-based surveys with samples that represent a cross-section of the community, such as the survey used in this study, allow assessment of who is aware of the facility and how it has changed their perceptions and attitudes toward bicycling. 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. 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.