Want to Encourage Bike Commuting? Supply a Shower

Eric Jaffe discusses the importance of providing showers and changing facilities at workplaces - the "hidden factor" in encouraging bike commuting - as revealed in the findings of a new study.
July 23, 2012, 12pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Of the range of bicycle infrastructure elements being built by cities to encourage more riders these days - from bike share to bike lanes - one important element may be overlooked. In an upcoming issue of Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment, Ralph Buehler of Virginia Tech measures how much influence "trip-end facilities" - showers and changing areas - has in encouraging bike commuting. 

By surveying a random sample of 5,000 daily commuters in the Washington, D.C. area, Buehler found that, "Trip-end facilities at work appear to be significant determinants of cycling to work. Compared to individuals without any bicycle facilities at work, commuters with cyclist showers, clothes lockers, and bike parking at work are associated with a 4.86 greater likelihood to commute by bicycle. Individuals with bike parking, but no showers and lockers at the workplace, are associated with 1.78 times greater odds to cycle to work than those without trip-end facilities."

"Although Buehler doesn't elaborate on his results," writes Jaffe, "the larger implications are quite clear: Bicycle commuting is a complex behavior that needs multiple layers of policy encouragement to thrive. Cities that aim to increase their share of cyclists have taken a good first step in creating the infrastructure that gets them from their home to their office. Those that wish to do more should consider measures that get bike riders from their office to their desk."

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Published on Friday, July 20, 2012 in The Atlantic Cities
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