Sponsor: U.S. Department of Transportation, Pacific Southwest Region 9 UTC
PI: Steven R. Gehrke
Co-PIs: Brendan J. Russo and Edward J. Smaglik
A continuation of automobile dependence over the past half-century within American cities has resulted in significant public health, environmental, and economic challenges. The further motivation of bicycling as a utilitarian and sustainable travel alternative has been identified as a viable solution to address societal concerns regarding physical inactivity, climate change, and transportation-related inequities. However, to date, a profound increase in bicycle mode shares in most communities remains elusive to policymakers, practitioners, and researchers largely because of the inability to attract new bicyclists via the provision of safer bicycling infrastructure. This project proposes to advance an innovative bicyclist routing platform—sensitive to network impediments and the personal security concerns of three different bicyclist types—and implement it in three Arizona metropolitan regions (Phoenix, Tucson, and Flagstaff) to help identify how bicyclist accessibility to job locations, grocery stores, and public schools relates to observed traffic safety concerns and the sociodemographic and economic characteristics of neighborhoods where these modeled routes originate. Specifically, this research seeks to understand whether significant variations in accessibility for more risk averse bicyclists residing in neighborhoods with a disproportionately high share of lower-income households, historically marginalized residents, or other established indicators of transportation-disadvantage exist and how reported transportation safety barriers (e.g., bicyclist-motorist crash sites) impact any modeled relationship. By offering novel insights into this important interplay with the development and application of an open-source bicyclist routing platform capable of measuring latent demand in a spatial econometric framework, this proposed research project intends to offer city officials and transportation researchers both a decision-support tool and the evidence needed to identify objective and perceived safety barriers that may be hindering a more equitable increase in bicycle mode adoption.