A new report co-authored by former DataLab Postdoctoral Scholar Jane Carlen illuminates the factors that impact bicycling comfort.
In this study, researchers use survey data to analyze bicycling comfort and its relationship with socio-demographics, bicycling attitudes, and bicycling behavior. An existing survey of students, faculty, and staff at UC Davis (n=3089) who rated video clips of bicycling environments based on their perceived comfort as a part of the UC Davis annual Campus Travel Survey (CTS) is used. The video clips come from a variety of urban and semi-rural roads (designated California state highways) around the San Francisco Bay Area where bicycling rates vary. Results indicate considerable effects of socio-demographics and attitudes on absolute video ratings, but relative agreement about which videos are most comfortable and uncomfortable across population segments. In addition, presence of bike infrastructure and low speed roads are the strongest video factors generating more comfortable ratings. However, the results suggest that even the best designed on-road bike facilities are unlikely to provide a comfortable bicycling environment for those without a predisposition to bicycle. This suggests that protected and separated bike facilities may be required for many people to consider bicycling. Nonetheless, the results provide guidance for improving roads with on-street bike facilities where protected or separated facilities may not be suitable.