Research Papers

What route types best motivate cycling? Evidence about route preferences vs. safety

Version 1
Date added June 17, 2014
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Category 2014 CMRSC XXIV Vancouver
Tags Research and Evaluation, Session 3C
Author/Auteur Teschke K, Harris MA, Reynolds CCO, Cripton PA, Winters M
Stream/Volet Research and Evaluation

Slidedeck Presentation Only (no paper submitted)

3C Teschke_What route types best motivate cycling


Background. Cycling in Cities is a research program based in Vancouver that has investigated which route infrastructure types are preferred (encourage vs. discourage bicycling) and which increase or decrease risk of cycling injuries.

Aim. Since safety concerns strongly influence uptake of cycling as a mode of transportation, we aimed to understand whether preferred routes are also safe routes.

Methods. Here we compare the results of two studies. The first was a population-based survey of 1402 current and potential adult cyclists. It provided respondents with pictures of 16 route types and asked them how likely they were to choose each one if all route types were available (5-point scale from -1 = very unlikely, to +1 = very likely). The second was a case-crossover study of 690 adult cyclists injured while cycling. Site observations at the injury site and randomly selected control sites from the same trip allowed calculation of relative risks for 15 route types, 13 of which matched those in the preferences survey. We then compared route preferences to route safety.

Results. The routes cyclists were least likely to choose were major city streets without bicycling infrastructure. These were also the least safe, especially if the streets had car parking. Major streets with either shared bike/car lanes or painted bike lanes with parked cars were also low in preference and safety. Almost all routes along major streets were deterrents to cycling, especially for occasional and potential cyclists, women, and people with children. The routes that cyclists were most likely to choose were those separated from traffic or along quiet streets with low traffic volumes. These were also the safest routes types, especially separated bike lanes (also known as cycle tracks) and residential street bike routes with traffic diversion. These route types had injury risks 50 to 90% lower than major streets with no cycling infrastructure.

Conclusions. The results of this comparison provide sound evidence for transportation planners to build routes that prevent traumatic injuries to cyclists and promote cycling as an urban transportation option, with attendant personal and public health benefits. The following route types were the most preferred and safest in three different settings: alongside major city streets, separated bike lanes; in residential areas, designated bike routes with traffic diversion; and away from streets, bike-only paths.

Teschke K, Harris MA, Reynolds CCO, Cripton PA, Winters M