Research Papers

Effect of neighbourhood proximity to safer routes on male and female commuting to work by bike

Version 1
Date added June 18, 2019
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Category 2019 CARSP XXIX Calgary
Tags Research and Evaluation, Session 6C
Author/Auteur Teschke, Chinn, Brauer
Stream/Volet Research and Evaluation

Slidedeck Presentation Only:



Background/Context: In countries with little cycling, route safety concerns are the major deterrent and designated bike infrastructure is the major motivator. Surveys indicate preferences for safer bikeway types, especially among women and people with children.

Aims/Objectives: We examined whether commuter cycling "mode share" (proportion of all commutes) in Montreal and Vancouver was higher in neighbourhoods close to safer routes. We also examined whether associations differed for males and females.

Methods/Targets: Commuting data were abstracted from the 2011 National Household Survey, by neighbourhood (census tract). ESRI Shapefiles for the two cities were used to calculate the distance from each parcel to the nearest bikeway for the network as a whole and for each of four bikeway types: cycle tracks; on-street painted bike lanes; residential street bikeways; and paved off-street bike paths. Previous research has shown cycle tracks to be the safest of these four, painted bike lanes the least, and all safer than no bike infrastructure. Inferential analyses examined associations between cycling commute mode share and proximities to any bikeway and to each of the four individual bikeway types. Analyses were repeated for male and female commuters separately.

Results/Activities: Montreal had ~ 450 km of bikeways with similar lengths of each bikeway types. The city had an overall cycling commute mode share of 2.7%, with a range of 0 to 20.4% across its 517 census tracts. Vancouver had ~ 240 km of bikeways, mostly (65%) residential street bikeways. The city had an overall mode share of 4.3%, with a range of 0 to 14.9% across its 117 census tracts. Closer proximity to any bikeway was associated with more cycling; one kilometre closer proximity had 3.9 times more cycle commuting. One kilometre closer proximity to cycle tracks was associated with 1.5 times more cycling, in both cities. Associations with all other individual bikeway types differed by city. In Montreal, all bikeway types were associated with more cycling. In Vancouver, residential street bikeways had strong associations with more cycling, but proximity to painted bike lanes (less safe than cycle tracks or residential street bikeways) and off-street bike paths (less access to destinations) did not. Associations were the same, but stronger, for females than males.

Discussion/Deliverables: Cycle tracks provide especially safe space for cycling alongside major streets and since such routes often provide access to work destinations, their consistent positive association with commute mode share is expected. The differences in associations for other bikeway types suggest that the networks formed by all bikeways in Montreal and by residential street bikeways in Vancouver may be more important drivers of cycling than some bikeway design characteristics.

Conclusions: In Montreal and Vancouver, there was substantial variation in cycle commuting at the neighbourhood level. The variation was positively and strongly associated with closer proximity to any bikeway. Cycle tracks and bikeways that formed a connected network were also associated with higher neighbourhood commute mode shares. These route features related to safety were even more important to women.