New-bike-lanes-motivate-New-Orleanians-to-cycle-more

New bike lanes motivate New Orleanians to cycle more

If you build it, they will ride; according to the results of a Tulane University study examining the impact of installing bike lanes on ridership along St. Claude Avenue in New Orleans.

As published by Kathryn Parker and colleagues in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, observers found a 57 percent increase in the average number of riders on St. Claude Avenue per day during a two-week period in November 2008 – just six months after bike lanes were installed – compared to a study period in the same month a year earlier when no lanes existed.

Adult female ridership experienced the greatest increase at 133 percent compared to a 44 percent increase among adult male ridership. This finding is consistent with other research that shows women prefer bike facilities that are separate from traffic. Additionally, the percentage of cyclists riding in the correct direction, with the flow of traffic, increased 9 percent to 82 percent of riders.

"These findings suggest that bike lanes are well-suited to New Orleans," said Parker. "Installing bike lanes is a cost-effective means of encouraging residents to be physically active for transportation and recreation."

Counts of men, women, adults and children riding a bicycle with traffic, against traffic and on sidewalks were taken in November 2007 and in November 2008, six months after the bike lane was installed. Observers counted cyclists in a designated area along Saint Claude Avenue from Elysian Fields to Franklin Avenue for nine hours daily.

Installing on-road bike lanes are believed to be an effective method for promoting physical activity. This study is unique in that it is one of the first to examine cycling levels using objective counts for an extended time period before and after bike lanes are built.

To ensure the increase in ridership could be credited to the new lane, authors discounted other factors that could have influenced cycling. Average gasoline prices fell by almost $1 during the two study periods; census estimates showed only a 17 percent increase in population for nearby neighborhoods during the year.

Funded by Surface Transportation Funds, the three-mile bike lane on St. Claude Avenue installed in May 2008 was the first of many planned bike lanes. The white-striped path runs through the Upper and Lower 9th Wards to the St. Bernard Parish line. As of the end of 2010, New Orleans has 37 miles of bicycle facilities, a 56 percent increase in total mileage from 2009.

See the full article in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health

Topics:   bike lanes , obesity , physical activity , built environment , community health

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