Bike research in Portland arms transportation planners with real data
By Christina Williams
Sustainable Business Oregon editor
New bike data should help transportation planners pry more commuters out of their cars.
The Portland area's ongoing efforts to pry more commuters out of their cars got a boost from new data from the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium at Portland State University that shows what it takes to more efficiently get bicyclists from A to B.
Metro, greater Portland's regional government, released this week a survey showing that despite efforts to improve biking infrastructure, area residents still largely prefer to use their car to get around.
Metro's 2011 Travel Action Survey found that 83.7 percent of the time someone in the region went somewhere, they took their car, down from 87.3 percent in 1994. The percentage of people driving to work dropped from 90 percent in 1994 to 81 percent in 2011.
But while the majority of trips are still made by car, bike research is arming the transportation planners at Metro — and in other cities — with more realistic data about how bicyclists behave on the road, what incentives prompt them to leave the car behind and how to better tailor city roads to encourage cycling.
Portland State researchers working with OTREC, affixed GPS devices to 164 bicyclists in Portland to determine what routes they prefer and why.
The results of the study were published this week the scientific journal Transportation Research Part A and have been incorporated into transportation planning models at Metro. TriMet has used the results to inform its Map Trip Planner software and planning officials from Denver, Seattle, San Diego and Eugene have come calling for the data to use in their own efforts.
Jennifer Dill, director of OTREC, said the data would help Metro do even better in encouraging bicycle use in the future.
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