Heterogeneity in the relationship between biking and the built environment

Deborah Salon, Matthew Wigginton Conway, Kailai Wang, Nathaniel Roth


Bicycling is an environmentally friendly, healthy, and affordable mode of transportation that is viable for short-distance trips. Urban planners, public health advocates, and others are therefore looking for strategies to promote more bicycling, including improvements to the built environment that make bicycling more attractive. This study presents an analysis of how key built environment characteristics relate to bicycling frequency based on a large sample from the 2012 California Household Travel Survey (California Department of Transportation, 2012) and detailed built environment data. The built environment characteristics we explore include residential and intersection density at anchor locations (home, work, school), green space, job access, land-use mix, and bicycle infrastructure availability. Analyses are conducted separately for three distinct demographic groups: school-age children, employed adults, and adults who are not employed. The key conclusion from this work is that the relationship between bicycling and some built environment characteristics varies between types of people — most dramatically between adults and children. To develop targeted policies with scarce resources, local policymakers need specific guidance as to which investments and policy changes will be most effective for creating “bikeable” neighborhoods. Our work indicates that the answer depends — at least in part — on who these bikeable neighborhoods are meant to serve.


bicycling, active travel, built environment, land use, children

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5198/jtlu.2019.1350

Copyright (c) 2019 Deborah Salon, Matthew Wigginton Conway, Kailai Wang, Nathaniel Roth