Many communities are investing in bicycle infrastructure, including new and evolving types of bicycle facilities. For this research, bicycle infrastructure is defined as that part of the physical transportation system used by bicycle users and does not include educational or publicity programs, bicycle-sharing or rental programs, and so on. To better inform decisions related to the location of bicycle facilities as well as what types of bicycle facilities to build, install, or modify, bicycle facility infrastructure should be studied relative to its effects on ridership, on the operation of the bicycle network, and on the way it can engage broad segments of the general population in bicycling. While a significant amount of research has been completed that assesses bicycle user preferences for bicycle facility types, it is lacking for several reasons. These efforts typically have not produced adequate information related to latent demand--information about potential bicyclists and what type of bicycle facilities would attract new users. The effects of different facility types on bicycle usage are difficult to quantify because of limited bicycle mode-share. Experienced and frequent bicyclists do not necessarily reflect the general population of potential bicyclists. Data sets are often too small to enable generalizable conclusions. Research is needed to better inform decision making on the selection of bicycle facilities. It should analyze bicycle facilities in the context of community types ranging from a dense urban core, to suburban neighborhoods, to small towns served by one or only a few major roadways (often where a state highway is the main street), and rural areas.
The objectives of this research are to provide guidance for predicting (1) the relative preference of current and potential bicycle users—by demographic groups including cyclist experience level—for various kinds of bicycle facilities in a variety of community environments; and (2) the relative effectiveness of various kinds of bicycle facilities for attracting new bicycle users and increasing bicycle travel by existing bicycle users. Community environment should include factors that significantly influence bicycling levels, e.g., the extent of the bicycle network, community support, population and geography. Bicycle facilities should at least include on-road and off-road facilities, intersection traffic controls, and widely used as well as less common and newer types of facilities. Other factors to be considered in the research design may include the bicycle network operating conditions and level of service; climate and weather; and maintenance practices. The research approach should leverage both innovative and commonly used survey research and data collection techniques. The guidance should assist bicycle facility planners and designers in evaluating bicycle facility design alternatives and bicycle network development strategies, and travel demand forecasters in improving the performance of travel demand models.