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Integrating the Bicycle into the Yosemite Valley Transportation Network


Research Report

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Suggested Citation:
Co, Sean A. (2000) Integrating the Bicycle into the Yosemite Valley Transportation Network. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Research Report UCD-ITS-RR-00-18

Cycling in Yosemite Valley is evaluated as a viable transportation mode within the context of the alternatives described in the 2000 Draft Yosemite Valley Plan/Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. Free from the obstacles that urban areas face in promoting the bicycle as transportation, Yosemite Valley offers a unique place to promote bicycle use. Traffic congestion occurs during the summer months peak season. During this time, the bicycle represents the quickest, most convenient way for many people to experience the Valley on the park roads and the dedicated Bikeway network portion of the Valley. Distances to locations in the seven mile by one mile Valley are short, allowing short travel times to destinations.

This is the first comprehensive study of bicycle use in Yosemite Valley. In total, 212 completed interviews were collected between September 3, 1999 and September 6, 1999 during peak visitation hours (10:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.). Cyclists were interviewed at six points throughout the Valley. Interviews were refused by 50 groups. In all, I find that groups who agreed to be interviewed are not different from groups who declined. Therefore, I believe my interview sample is representative of late summer cyclists in Yosemite Valley.

This study establishes several important baselines about cyclists during typical busy summer days, for example, the number of cyclists, the locations they visit, what proportion rent bicycles as compared to bringing their own, the distribution of the size of groups of cyclists, cyclist use of other travel modes and the presence of children among groups of cyclists. Further, additional questions were asked about cycling infrastructure.

Yosemite Valley bicycle riders are experienced Yosemite visitors. Very few bicycle riders were first time visitors to the Valley. These visitors first learned that they could ride in the Valley by seeing bicycles on previous trips or by word of mouth. Valley cyclists were using the bicycle because it was the most convenient way to get around the Valley. In addition, these cyclists used the Valley shuttle bus system at least once during their trip.

Estimates of the total number of cyclists were made. During a typical busy summer day, 618–718 bicycles are in circulation. An estimated additional 168–357 employees commute to work on summer days.

In addition to the interviews, counts of cyclists were made at Curry Village, Camp 6, Mirror Lake, Village Visitor Center, and intersection near the Park Service Administration Building and Swinging Bridge. These counts measure bicycle activity levels during select points in the day.
Master's Thesis