Increasing Cycling: Pull Measures


On the 29th July, SpyCycle wrote about the new report from the European Cyclists Federation calling for fewer cars, more bikes, resulting in better air quality. We now look at the way the ECF proposes achieving these three results.

The ECF (European Cyclists Federation) promotes “Cycling as a System” and believes that most factors that increase modal shift from private motorised transport to cycling can be classified into two categories:

• Pull measures aimed directly at increasing cycling. This category includes measures especially directed to encourage users to change from their usual transport modes to cycling exclusively. Any modal shifts produced by these factors will result in an increase in the proportion of cyclists in the city.

• Push measures aimed at reducing the demand of other transport modes. These factors correspond to measures aimed to restrict the use of non-sustainable transport modes (e.g. cars) but do not directly encourage a modal shift towards a particular alternative. As a result, these measures may not increase the proportion of cyclists.

This article focuses on the “Pull Measures” aimed directly at Cycling, and is extracted from the ECF’s Report into “Cycling and Urban Air Quality”.

Bicycle Share Schemes

Bike share schemes have emerged in a number of cities in Europe, Asia and North America with over 700 programmes now in use (Meddin and DeMaio, 2014). The first was set up in Amsterdam in 1965, it was anonymous and free of charge, which made it fail soon after launch due to vandalism. Copenhagen brought out a better version in 1995, with coin-deposit docking stations. This evolved by incorporating information technology for reservations, pick up, drop off, and tracking. In 1998, the city of French city of Rennes launched the first IT-based programme (Vélo à la Carte) and in 2007, Paris launched Europe’s largest IT-based scheme with over 20,000 bicycles and 1,450 docking stations available every 300 meters (Vélib). The emerging fourth generation systems have refined the IT-based concept andseek seamless integration of bike sharing with public transportation and other alternative modes, such as taxis and car sharing.

The main benefits of bike sharing are related to the reduction of pollutants and GHG emissions due to the replacement of trips made by cars. After the launch of Bicing in Barcelona (Spain), the city’s bicyclemodal split increased by 1% (from 0.75% to 1.76% in 2007) over a period of 2 years (from 2005 to 2007). Velo’v in Lyon (France) reported that bicycle use reduced the automobile mode share by 7% in 2007.

The distance between home and closest docking station is a factor directly associated with convenience and this has been found to be a reliable predictor of bike share usage. A study in Montréal (Canada) reflected that living within 500 m of a docking station resulted in a threefold increase in the use of bike share (Bachand-Marleau et al., 2012). Similar findings were shown in London, where fun appeared to be an additional key motivation for casual users (TfL, 2011).

A study with information from surveys about bicycle share users carried out in London, Brussels, Berlin, Stuttgart, Paris, Lyon, and Barcelona showed that private motorisation is reduced by the implementation of a bicycle share scheme (being as much as 10% in Barcelona). Additionally, other transportation modes such as mopeds or motorcycles suffered important reductions as a consequence of the bicycle share scheme (46% in Berlin and 34% in Stuttgart).

Cycling Infrastructure

Cycling infrastructure refers to the existence of segregated lanes, bicycle parking slots as well as cycle storage facilities at home, work or public transport stations. This infrastructure is not particularly related to a bicycle share scheme, but rather directed to private cyclists. There is a general perception among stakeholders that creating cycling infrastructure will increase modal shift (usually referred to as the “build it and they’ll come” principle) and in most cases, this principle is true.

The importance of creating cycling infrastructure is related to the public perception of cycling as risky. A survey carried out in 2010 among UK adults found that 86% selected cycling as the mode most at risk of traffic accidents, as opposed to 2-7% for other modes (Thornton et al., 2010). A similar study in Portland (USA) revealed that there is significant potential for increasing cycling with a safer infrastructure stating that 60% of the residents would cycle if safety was increased, 7% are enthused and confident, less than 1% are strong and fearless, and a proportion are not interested in cycling at all (33%) (Geller, 2012).

This clearly highlights the need of developing separate cycling infrastructure to increase the perception of safety among the public opinion (Goodman et al., 2014). Research confirms that the type of bicycle infrastructure matters: potential users prefer physically segregated bicycle paths to curb lanes, bicycle lanes and roads without bicycle facilities (Heinen et al., 2010).

The creation of new cycling infrastructure is usually directly correlated to an increase in modal shift. A 2003 cross-sectional study in the commuting behaviour of 43 cities in the United States revealed that every additional mile of bike lanes per square mile led to a 1 % increase in bicycle commuters (Dill and Carr, 2003). A study carried out in Dublin in 2012 revealed that the construction of segregated cycling lanes produced a 74.1% change in the opinion of residents on cycling safety, with 56.4% of the surveyed people actually considering shifting to cycling due to these new infrastructures (Caulfield et al., 2012).

Similar findings were observed in Seville in 2010, where the existence of the cycling infrastructure (120 km) produced a global modal shift of 32% from former car users and 5.4% from motorcycle users with a total spent budget of €35 million (Ayuntamiento de Sevilla, 2010). This ultimately produced a global increase in modal share of cycling in the city from 0.5% in 2006 to 7% in 2013. In the city council of Darlington (UK), the injection of €5.3 million in cycling infrastructure (40 km) since 2004 produced a total increase in cycle trips of 26-30% and changed cycling mode share from 1% to almost 3% (5.1 trips per 100 people) (DCC, 2007; Sloman et al., 2010). In Malmö, the construction of 410 km of bicycle lanes in 2009 resulted in a total 20% increase in the number of cycling trips and raising the cycling modal share from 20% in 2003 to 22% in 2013, having spent a total budget of €40 million (ADVANCE, 2014; CIVITAS, 2014).

Provision of “Trip End Facilities”

The existence of proper and safe cycle parking and storage facilities is likely to increase the degree of modal shift in a city with cycling infrastructure. A study carried out in the United States revealed that the existence of bicycle parking facilities was the second priority after segregated lanes among surveyed users, lockers being the most preferred (against exterior lockable or covered lockable facilities) (Taylor and Mahmassani, 1996). A study in the Netherlands showed that the existence of cycle storage facilities nearby usual workplaces increase the number of cyclists, and particularly, women cyclists.

Integration of Cycling in Public Transport Networks

The current practises in the promotion of cycling as an alternative mode of transport focus on its seamless integration with existing public transport networks (i.e. “bike-and-ride”). The number of policy initiatives to promote the use of bike-and-ride, the combined use of the bicycle and public transport for one trip, has seen a considerable increase over the last 10 years worldwide. Examples of these practises are the design of bicycle routes to stations, the provision of bicycle racks on buses, allowing bicycles on trains, bicycle lockers and parking facilities at stations (IST, 2010).

The integration of cycling in public transport commutes is particularly interesting for reducing door-to-door travel times, particularly in the trips between the transport station and home or the work place. As a feeder mode, cycling is substantially faster than walking and more flexible than public transport, eliminating waiting and scheduling costs Martens, 2007). A comparison of travel times on 25 home-to-work links in the Netherlands indicated that the travel time ratio between public transport and private car can drop from an average 1.43 to 1.25 hours if the bicycle is integrated in the public transport commute (Martens, 2004).

A study carried out in 2006 in the Netherlands showed that a substantial degree of integration of cycling in the public transport networks is achieved by simply providing sufficient and attractive bicycle parking facilities at public transport stations (Gatersleben and Appleton, 2007). This same experience demonstrated that bicycle lockers located at bus stations were hardly used by passengers due to their cost and the perceived low risks of theft and vandalism.

Cycling integration efforts are currently part of the transport planning strategies of different cities in Europe. In the Flemish region of Belgium, 22% of all trips to the station are made by bicycle. In the Netherlands, 39% of all trips to the station are made by bicycle and 10% of train passengers continue their trips on this mode. In Denmark, 25% of train clients use the bike to get the station and 9% in Sweden, yet in the city of Malmö this number increases to 35%. In Copenhagen (Denmark) and Berlin (Germany), bicycles are allowed in trains and underground transport while in Dresden (Germany), Strasbourg and Lille (France) bicycles are generally allowed on trams (ECF, 2012).

Information and Awareness Campaigns

Information and public awareness campaigns are important determinants in the success of policies directed towards cycling. There is a need to develop a cycling culture and a critical mass of cyclists which makes further adoption more likely (i.e. commuters are more likely to cycle if those around them are already cycling). Information campaigns are destined to increase the awareness of the general public on the existence of cycling infrastructure and on other factors such as health benefits, cost-effectiveness, etc.

According to Douma and Cleaveland (2009), the effectiveness of cycling campaigns in US cities like Chicago or Orlando was increased by awareness campaigns and bicycling advocacy. These major campaigns advertised the presence of bike lanes and created excitement about the new transportation option. A similar case was observed in Mexico City’s, which despite low cycling levels, quickly reached the capacity of its bike sharing scheme of 30,000 members and now has a waiting list to join (Shaheen and Guzman, 2011). Information campaigns have fostered cycling in several German cities such as Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Munich. In Berlin, communication efforts are less visible than infrastructure improvements while in Frankfurt some communication efforts like the “bike & business” campaign were noticeable despite the less important infrastructure improvements (Lanzendorf and Busch-Geertsma, 2014). The information and promotion campaign undertaken by Munich cost €4 million and between 2009 and 2014 is expected to raise cycling modal share to 17% in 2014 (von Sassen and Kofler, 2013). The UK cities of Peterborough and Worcester invested in the period between 2004-2008 a substantial part of the €8.1 and €5.3 million budgets in funding cycling awareness campaigns that resulted in cycling modal shares of 17% and 16% (38% and 23% increase with respect to 2004) respectively (Sloman et al., 2010).

Particularly important elements of cycling awareness campaigns are cycling demonstration days (i.e. car-free days, traffic-free paths, etc.). One of the principal aims of these days is to encourage people to take up cycling for the first time or to start cycling again, providing the opportunity for less experienced cyclists to gain the confidence, experience and fun necessary to enable them to cycle more. Creating at least one high quality traffic-free cycle route in every urban area drives people to cycling again, enjoying the experience and convincing themselves that the bicycle is a valuable and appropriate means of transport for everyday use ( Jones, 2012).

One of the most relevant annual events that raise cycling awareness in Europe is the European Mobility Week, which is an annual campaign on sustainable urban mobility organised by the European Commission. The aim of this campaign is to encourage European local authorities to introduce and promote sustainable transport options and to impulse modal shift from private motorised transport among citizens. One of the most important events that take place during this week is the “In Town Without My Car” day, in which cities set aside one or several areas solely for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport (EC, 2014). An experiment conducted in Brussels during Car Free Sunday (20th September 2009) revealed a reduction in the local concentration of Black Carbon of 6 μg/m3. This reduction lasted only during the hours in which car circulation was restricted. Once normal circulation was re-established, black carbon concentrations returned to their usual levels (38 μg/m3) (Fierens, 2013).

Personalised Travel Information

In general, aggregate-level studies have found a positive correlation between the investment in cycling infrastructure (particularly lanes) and overall levels of bicycling. However, there are still important knowledge gaps on individual-level preferences, which in some cases have found a correlation
between cycling and proximity to separate paths, or that cyclists go out of their way to use paths. A study carried out in Portland (United States) incorporating GPS data collection revealed that cyclists prefer routes that reduce exposure to motor vehicle traffic (Broach et al., 2012). It highlights the need of designing personalised travel information that reflects individual route choices and assures conditions for efficient transportation, security and comfort. A fully integrated personalised travel information system that accounts for cycling in the urban public transport network is still pending, even in those cities with a fully-evolved cycling policy framework.

In the next Spy Cycling Article, we will take further extracts from the ECF’s report, looking at measures aimed at reducing the demand for other transport modes.


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