CYCLING INFRASTRUCTURE: The impact of Bike Lanes on Participation Levels

The Journal of Physical Activity and Health has published in its January 2011 issue an interesting article by Parker, Gustat and Rice (2011) which showed that the provision of cycling infrastructure, bike lanes in this instance resulted in increased participation levels over a 12 month period.  More evidence for the likes of the City of Perth to rethink its approach to bicycle infrastructure unless of course they do not want cyclists at all in the City of Perth!

From the summary of the paper:


People are more physically active in neighborhoods that are well designed for walking and bicycling. Building infrastructure for safer cycling is one way to promote physical activity. On-road bike lanes are one type of infrastructure hypothesized to positively impact levels of cycling. The first on-street bike lane was painted in New Orleans, LA during the spring of 2008.

Methods: In November of 2007 and again in November 2008, trained observers conducted manual counts of cyclists riding on St. Claude Avenue in New Orleans, LA. The data collected included the number of men, women, adults, and children riding a bicycle with traffic, against traffic, and on sidewalks.

Results: Data showed a 57% increase in the average number of riders per day (P < .001). There was a 133% increase among adult female riders (P < .001) and a 44% increase among adult male riders (P < .001). The percentage of cyclists riding in the correct direction, with the flow of traffic, increased from 73% to 82% (P < .001).

Conclusions: Bike lanes can have a positive impact in creating a healthy physical environment. Future research should include other streets for comparison purposes and surveys to determine whether riders are substituting biking for nonactive forms of transportation.

This study adds support to the provision of quality cycling infrastructure to assist in achieving the over arching goal of the Australian National Cycling Strategy of doubling cycling participation by 2015.

Interested readers can download the full paper from here.


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