The Impact of Bicycling Facilities on Commute Mode Share


Frank Douma, Fay Cleaveland

August 2008

Report no. MnDOT 2008-33



A 2005 study by Barnes, Thompson, and Krizek examined how the addition of bicycling facilities during the 1990s influenced localized bicycle commuting rates in the Twin Cities. They found that new facilities had a small but consistent and statistically significant impact on increased rates of bicycle commuting in areas immediately surrounding these facilities. This study expands on these findings by applying the same methodology to six other cities that experienced new facility construction during the 1990s. The purpose is to determine whether results from the Twin Cities are consistent elsewhere and to identify possible contextual factors influencing facilities' impact on bicycle commuting rates in a given city. We conclude that the "build it and they will come" theory is not universally applicable; context factors are an important element in determining the effectiveness of new commuting facilities. Among the key factors we identified were the level of publicity surrounding new facilities, the utility of routes to commuters, and the overall connectivity of the city's bicycling network. This evidence will aid in the evaluation of bicycle facility investment as a congestion reduction strategy.

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