My friend and college Martine just posted a few cool photos of bikes and neat cycling amenities in Stockholm. Check her post and photos here (in french).
Makes me think of a recent paper that came out from John Pucher, Jennifer Dill and Susan Handy. “Infrastructure, Programs, and Policies to Increase Bicycling: An International Review“
Objectives. To assess existing research on the effects of various interventions on levels of bicycling. Interventions include infrastructure (e.g., bike lanes and parking), integration with public transport, education and marketing programs, bicycle access programs, and legal issues.
Methods. A comprehensive search of peer-reviewed and non-reviewed research identified 139 studies. Study methodologies varied considerably in type and quality, with few meeting rigorous standards. Secondary data were gathered for 14 case study cities that adopted multiple interventions.
Results. Many studies show positive associations between specific interventions and levels of bicycling. The 14 case studies show that almost all cities adopting comprehensive packages of interventions experienced large increases in the number of bicycle trips and share of people bicycling.
Conclusions. Most of the evidence examined in this review supports the crucial role of public policy in encouraging bicycling. Substantial increases in bicycling require an integrated package of many different, complementary interventions, including infrastructure provision and pro- bicycle programs, supportive land use planning, and restrictions on car use.
I cited this review a lot for my PhD protocol. It’s interesting reading the abstract again. Although I do somewhat agree with the conclusion I think that it goes beyond the data and what we know about interventions and cycling. In particular infrastructure interventions have not been well studied. I think we assume they are going to work but have little idea on the size of the effect. Also, there are are important challenges with respect to study designs for examining infrastructure interventions. We need to move beyond pre-post studies but this has not proved easy. I like the quote from Kevin Krizek in Explaining changes in walking and bicycling behavior: Challenges for transportation research “the crucial limitation, however, is that most studies fall far short of the ideal research design for evaluating interventions, involving before-and-after measurements of a “treatment” and a “control” group.”
So that’s that. I know there are lots of people out there working on improving the quality of research in cycling and I’m sure there are great things to come.