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Mapping Bikeability: A Spatial Tool to Support Sustainable Travel

Meghan Winters, Michael Brauer, Eleanor M Setton and Kay Teschke
Additional contact information
Meghan Winters: Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Blusson Hall, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6, Canada
Michael Brauer: School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia, 2206 East Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z3, Canada
Eleanor M Setton: Geography Department, University of Victoria, PO Box 3050, STN CSC, Victoria, BC V8W 3R4, Canada
Kay Teschke: School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia, 2206 East Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z3, Canada

Environment and Planning B, 2013, vol. 40, issue 5, 865-883

Abstract: The built environment has been shown to influence active transportation. Although spatial data for the built environment is increasingly available, there has been little effort to use existing data and knowledge to define and map ‘bikeability’ as an approach to promoting travel by bicycle. Our goal was to build a tool to identify areas that are more conducive and less conducive to cycling. We used empirical research to develop a bikeability index and geographic information systems to map the index across the Metro Vancouver region. Results of an opinion survey, travel behaviour studies, and focus groups were used to identify the components of the index and their relative importance. Pertinent geospatial data layers were scored and combined using a flexible weighting scheme to create a composite map highlighting both high and low bikeability areas. The bikeability index was comprised of five factors shown to consistently influence cycling: Bicycle facility availability; bicycle facility quality; street connectivity; topography; and land use. For mapping purposes, we created corresponding metrics: density of bicycle facilities; separation from motor vehicle traffic; connectivity of bicycle-friendly roads (local streets, bicycle routes, and off-street paths); slope; and density of destination locations. Using empirical evidence to combine data layers for these metrics we generated a high-resolution (10 m) bikeability surface for the region, depicting bicycle-friendly areas and areas where cycling conditions need to be improved. Built environment interventions for specific locations are informed by evaluating scores for the five individual component layers. Mapping bikeability provides a powerful visual aid to identify zones where changes are needed to support sustainable travel. This evidence-based tool presents data in a user-friendly way for planners and policy makers. The overall bikeability score and its five component scores can guide local action to stimulate changes in cycling rates. It uses widely available data types, thus facilitating easy application in other cities. Furthermore, the flexible parameters and weighting scheme enable users elsewhere to tailor it to evidence about local preferences and conditions.

Keywords: bicycle; built environment; physical activity; urban planning; GIS; spatial tool (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2013
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