Geographic and Demographic Suitability of Cycling in North American Cities
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With interest in cycling increasing in recent decades, local authorities and planners have been eager to enact policies to expedite a mode shift from driving to more sustainable, equitable and accessible transportation options. However, promoting cycling has encountered many challenges within car- dominated cities in North America. Previous research on the factors that influence cycling have cited geography-related concerns such as weather, elevation changes, and low land-use density as main reasons for not choosing to cycle (Pucher & Buehler, 2021). Similarly, it is understood that a city’s demographics, particularly the age distribution and physical capacity of residents, may influence the likelihood to cycle. This thesis discusses the geographic and demographic analysis of the suitability of cycling in four North American cities of various sizes, densities, geographies, and climate. Vancouver (BC) and Portland (OR), Waterloo (ON) and Madison (WI) are evaluated for their physical and demographic attributes that either promote or limit the propensity to cycle. The research then examines the planning responses in each city aimed at overcoming these challenges. The results of the research reveal both positive and negative attributes. For example, Portland and Vancouver have much more conducive climate, while Waterloo and Madison have demographics (students) that have greater tendency to cycle. While variability exists in the physical and demographic attributes, the results demonstrate that those cities that have addressed their shortcomings have achieved greater cycling mode shares. The approaches and lessons learned from this work present a structure for cities to recognize their strengths, identify their weaknesses, and tailor the policies and investments to make cycling a more comfortable mode of transport for everyone – particularly those for whom physical or other limitations may present limiting factors.
Cite this version of the work
Jeffrey Leung (2022). Geographic and Demographic Suitability of Cycling in North American Cities. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/18737