Publication Detail

Road environments and bicyclist route choice: The cases of Davis and San Francisco, CA



BicyclingPlus Research Collaborative

Suggested Citation:
Fitch, Dillon T. and Susan L. Handy (2020) Road environments and bicyclist route choice: The cases of Davis and San Francisco, CA. Transportation Research Part F 85, 102705

Examining bicyclists' route choices provides valuable insights into the importance of road environments for bicycling. In this study, we examine the role of road factors, individual factors, and preference heterogeneity on route choice using two diverse and extreme cases in the U.S. The first case is bicycling to the University of California, Davis campus by students, faculty, and staff. This case represents the most bike friendly environment in the U.S. which affords a diverse bicycling population. The second case is bicycling to many destinations for many purposes in San Francisco, CA. It is more representative of a large U.S. city, but also has a relatively large bicycling mode share. It serves as an important case for examining the new innovative type of bicycling infrastructure that has been installed in North American cities over the past decade. Results suggest substantial within-city between-person heterogeneity in preference for road attributes and bicycling facilities as well as differences between contexts. Davisites show strong preferences for bike lanes and off-street paths and consistently choose routes of similar length to shortest routes indicating the need for suitable routes with minimal detours to support a large bicycling mode share. San Franciscans show strong preferences for conventional bike lanes on minor arterials, even stronger preferences for separated and protected bicycling facilities, and are willing to detour considerable distances to ride on them. Given large between-person differences within cities, we suggest usual valuations of bicycling facilities from elasticities and marginal rates of substitutions at the mean may need rethinking when applied to bike infrastructure planning.

 Key words: bicycling, travel behavior, route choice, bicycling infrastructure