Better infrastructure boosts cycling rates

By Bill Holloway

New research affirms the link between bicycle-friendly infrastructure and biking rates among nearby residents. The researchers analyzed a decade of bicycle commuting data in Minneapolis to determine the impact of the Greenway—a 5.5-mile grade-separated cross-town bicycle and pedestrian corridor that links residential and employment areas.

Although bike commuting increased across the US during the 2000-2010 study period, the construction of the Greenway appears to have further boosted the rate of bike commuting among nearby residents. Bike commuting among those living within 3 miles of the corridor increased by 90 percent during the study period, rising from 1.8 to 3.4 percent, while in areas more than 6 miles from the Greenway, bicycling increased by only 33 percent, from 1.2 to 1.8 percent.

These results support the idea that investing in better bicycle infrastructure can increase ridership. Conversely, cities should think twice before rejecting urban bike infrastructure projects due to low bicycle ridership. After all, nobody gauges the need for a new public pool by the number of people standing around in their swimming suits holding towels.

Bill Holloway is a Transportation Policy Analyst at SSTI.