Infrastructure Alone is Not Enough to Encourage People to Commute by Bike


Infrastructure and facilities are a necessary component of bicycle-friendly communities, but are not sufficient on their own to encourage people to bicycle. According to a recent study done by the University of California at Davis, it also takes the right attitude. Researchers surveyed students, faculty and staff about cycling attitudes at a campus and town well known for excellent infrastructure.

UC Davis is one of only eight educational institutions to reach Platinum, the highest rank possible in the League of American Bicyclists’ Bicycle Friendly University program. The City of Davis has also reached Platinum.

While bicycle infrastructure and low speed limits make cyclists more comfortable, the researchers found “that even the best designed on-road bike facilities are unlikely to provide a comfortable bicycling environment for those without a predisposition to bicycle.”

In the study, Making Bicycling Comfortable: Identifying Minimum Infrastructure Needs by Population Segments Using a Video Survey: A Research Report from the National Center for Sustainable Transportation (, researchers asked participants to look at videos and state which scenarios made them feel most comfortable. No matter what the infrastructure in the videos was, many of the participants indicated they were reluctant to bike, because they needed to dress well, cycling to campus caused stress, and/or they need a car anyway.

The study acknowledges that participants were largely undergraduate students and disproportionately female, so results don’t reflect attitudes of the general population. The videos also did not show all possible roads and paths, which could also have an effect on attitudes.


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