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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

New Study: What Can We Learn From D.C. Bicyclists? [Bike League]


Washington, D.C., is a Silver Bicycle Friendly Community, with great local advocacy groups (WABAF.A.B.B.), several top notch bicycling-related blogs (Greater Greater WashingtonWashCycle), some of the highest bike commuter rates on the East Coast, and a large fleet of red Capital Bikeshare bikes.
But what else can we learn about bicycling in our nation’s capital — and what makes people ride?
Protected bikes lanes on iconic Pennsylvania Avenue
That’s the question that Virginia Tech Assistant Professor Ralph Buehler and several of his students set out to answer with their recent study: “Trends and Determinants of Cycling in the Washington, DC Region.” (The first part of the study has been published in the journal World Transport Policy and Practice.)
“The Washington region is a bike-commuter region,” Buehler told me. As he wrote in his study: “In 2008, 41 percent of all weekday bike trips in the region were commute- or work-related, compared to only 17 percent in other urbanized areas in the U.S. The high share of utilitarian trip purposes in the region is comparable with bike-friendly cities in Europe, such as Berlin or Amsterdam.”
D.C. has a history of planning for bicycling and has made significant progress, but Buehler warned against complacency. “Having big plans now does not mean that it will be implemented in the future,” he said. “It was interesting to see the ambitious plans from the 1970s that only got partially implemented. This could be a little bit of a warning for cycling advocates.”
“The development of the regional trail network was crucial to provide connection between jurisdictions and from neighborhoods to employment centers,” Buehler continued. “The new trend towards bike lanes is encouraging because it will complement the regional network.”

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