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Survey: Cyclists most comfortable separated from cars

Posted Dec. 12, 2018

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aerial shot of green bike lanes
In May 2018, Fort Worth installed new high-friction green pavement markings on South Main Street near the Lancaster intersection.

Regional planners continue to examine ways they can provide more active transportation options that will allow residents to safely bicycle to destinations throughout North Texas.

The North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOGs) has completed the Bicycle Opinion Survey of adults in the 12-county metropolitan area, which involved interviews with more than 1,900 adults covering a range of bicycle-oriented subjects, from how often they rode and their level of comfort to bicycling barriers and proximity to bike facilities.

The survey classified respondents into four types of cyclist:

  • Strong and Fearless (2 percent): Will ride a bicycle regardless of conditions. Bicycling is an important part of their identity.
  • Enthused and Confident (14 percent): Somewhat comfortable sharing the roadway with vehicles, but prefer to have bike-specific facilities.
  • Interested but Concerned (36 percent): Curious about riding a bicycle, but afraid to ride. They would ride more with separated facilities.
  • No Way, No How (48 percent): Not interested in cycling or comfortable doing so, or physically unable to ride.

The results in the 12-county North Texas region, which in addition to urban areas also includes rural areas and small towns, were similar to those reported in Austin. For example, in the North Texas region, approximately half of respondents are classified as either “enthused and confident” or “interested and concerned.”

A majority of North Texas respondents (55 percent) indicated they would like to bicycle more, which includes residents who reported not having bicycled in the past year.

Hot weather and a lack of facilities were the reasons most often identified among all respondents as top obstacles to bicycling more often. The distance to the nearest trail and the lack of showers at the end of a bicycle trip were also identified as issues impacting the ability or desire to bicycle more often.

The survey found the closer respondents lived to a bicycle facility, the more likely they were to ride a bicycle in the past year. Another important conclusion drawn from the NCTCOG Bicycle Opinion Survey was people’s desire for more dedicated bike facilities, separated from vehicular traffic, such as an off-street path or on-street dedicated bike lanes separated from traffic by wide buffers or physical barriers.

Only a small percentage of residents indicated they are comfortable riding a bicycle with traffic on streets that do not have bike lanes separating them from vehicle traffic lanes.

Currently, the region boasts 700 miles of off-street paths and 400 miles of on-street bikeways, with more funded or planned in the coming years.

Ultimately, knowing what people think about bicycling, whether it is their level of comfort or how likely they are to even ride a bike, will help NCTCOG prioritize funding and use its resources most effectively. Planners will use the data from this report and other initiatives to improve mobility options so residents can pedal even more places.

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