If You Build It Will They Come, On Bikes?

Eric Jaffe reports on a new study that aims to conclusively answer the question of whether bike paths and bike lanes actually promote more bike riders.
February 27, 2012, 12pm PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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While recent studies in Seattle and Minneapolis reached opposite conclusions on the subject, Jaffe looks to a new study published in the March 2012 issue of the journal Transportation that attempts to clarify the confusion, and the results are positive for bicycle proponents

"Even after controlling for a number of factors - including land use, climate, socioeconomic status, gas prices, public transport and bike safety - they still get a clear result: 'cities with a greater supply of bike paths and lanes have significantly higher bike commute rates,'" writes Jaffe.

Of course, in the end Jaffe cannot leave the question settled, as he references another recent study in Stafford, England, scheduled for publication in Transport Policy that shows a more nuanced outcome on rates of recreational biking and bicycle commuting. "The important lesson for policy makers is that bike paths and bike lanes may both increase ridership, but in different ways. While the former may encourage recreational riding, that doesn't necessarily translate into everyday cycling."

In the end, Jaffe reconciles the divergent results: "with each study of this kind that's completed, it seems more clear that in many cities, for many different purposes, there does appear to be some fundamental demand for sustainable transportation just waiting for a share of the urban landscape."

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Published on Friday, February 24, 2012 in The Atlantic Cities
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