The PSU Center for Transportation Studies presented preliminary results from a bike survey Friday that looked at how the urban environment affects bicyclists in Portland. The study was an effort to deduce what changes in the urban environment would encourage people to bike more.
The PSU Center for Transportation Studies presented preliminary results from a bike survey Friday that looked at how the urban environment affects bicyclists in Portland.
The study was an effort to deduce what changes in the urban environment would encourage people to bike more. The speaker, Dr. Jennifer Dill, associate professor in the urban studies and planning department, said the Transportation Studies Center will continue the project by surveying bicyclists using position tracking devices, but that they still have work left after their initial survey.
“There’s a lot more to do with this data,” said Dill, emphasizing that the numbers were preliminary. She said that other studies have supported the findings of this study.
The study was done in November 2005 with a random phone survey. Throughout the urban areas of Portland, 566 adults were interviewed with questions that addressed issues such as frequency of cycling, experiences with cycling, social support and the environment.
An important aspect of the survey, Dill said, discussed the “utilitarian cyclist” (those who bicycle to work, school, or on errands and make up about 27 percent of regular riders). Dill said that the non-utilitarian cyclists are the people they plan to target when encouraging an increase of cycling.
“Given the right neighborhood, the right environment, they’re the people more likely to become utilitarian cyclists,” she said.
Regular cyclists, those who ride once a week or more, tend to be male and wealthier, according to survey results. There was no pattern between vehicle availability and frequency of riding, Dill said, but most people rely on more than one method of transport.
The highest concentration of regular cyclists was found in inner southeast Portland. Dill said that because Southeast Portland is flat, close to downtown, and the streets are laid out in an easy-to-navigate grid, it is an area easy for cyclists to utilize.
Dill said that looking at physical characteristics of the riders’ environment revealed what they perceived as their environment versus the actual environment. The results of the survey said that people who lived closer to trails were more likely to ride.
People who held negative views on cars were more likely to be utilitarian cyclists than regular cyclists. Dill said that gas prices did not generally have much of an impact on modes of transportation.
The most commonly listed barriers to cycling were: too much traffic, no bike lanes or trails and no safe place to leave their bike. Dill emphasized the importance of low traffic, well connected neighborhood streets.
“The survey is sort of the first work to be done on the project,” Dill said. “The next step is to use GPS units.”
The global positioning units will be given to participants who are regular cyclists.
The cyclists will take the GPS units, and their routes will be mapped out to study what roads and trails they take. That way, the researchers can look at other factors such as speed and terrain.
Already, there have been over 300 cyclists who volunteered to carry the GPS devices. Dill said that it is important to get a range of participants, not just the most intense cyclists. A screening survey will be used to test potential candidates.
Dill said that it was difficult to reach people from ages 18-24, because the survey utilized landline phone numbers, and many younger people rely on cell phones. Even so, Dill presented results in a rough approximation of current demographics. For example, 56 percent of people were surveyed were male, while only 49 percent of the Portland population is male.
There were over 40 people present at the seminar, ranging from an Oregon Department of Transportation employee to many students from the school of urban planning to someone with TriMet. The Active Living Research program, part of the Robert Wood Foundation that emphasizes health, funded the study.