If you build them, commuters will use them: Association between bicycle facilities and bicycle commuting

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Conventional wisdom suggests that if bicycle pathways are provided, people will use them. This assertion is based on a combination of anecdotes, a few case studies, and mostly wishful thinking. Until now, there have been no cross-sectional studies of the association between bicycle pathway supply and commuting by bicycle that control for a variety of factors. Cross-sectional analysis, controlling for a variety of extraneous factors, can help to attribute differences in bicycle commuting to the overall supply of pathways. Cross-sectional data are applied here to 18 U.S. cities to help fill this gap in research. After considering such factors as weather, terrain, and number of college students, a positive association was found between miles of bicycle pathways per 100,000 residents and the percentage of commuters using bicycles. It is speculated that one problem with shifting the mode of commuting away from automobiles may simply be an inadequate supply of bicycle facilities. Although this work is the first of its kind, more systematic research is needed to confirm its findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-83
Number of pages5
JournalTransportation Research Record
Issue number1578
Publication statusPublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


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