Asking the user: a perceptional approach for bicycle infrastructure design
Cycling is a desirable mode of transportation in urban areas due to its environmental, social, and economic benefits. Design manuals are used as standardized references and guides to provide safe, functional, and convenient bicycle infrastructure. These guidelines usually provide best practice recommendations and refer to minimum requirements for dimensions (geometry) and materials. However, these documents rarely include input from cyclists. Unlike the infrastructure service perceived by motorists, which is related to performance measurements such as speed or travel time, the quality of service (QoS) experienced by pedestrians and cyclists is strongly influenced by perceptions (e.g., safety) owing to the fact that they are directly exposed to the environment. Beyond the performance-related indicators (e.g., Level of Service), when cyclists assess QoS, their cognitive process incorporates their perceptions of the surroundings. We present a user-oriented perspective in this paper, since supply-oriented evaluation and design has been carried out for decades without giving a relevant role to user perceptions. Our objective is to uncover factors explaining QoS perceived by cyclists from users' perceptions and to analyze new contributions to existing bicycle infrastructure design practices. By means of stepwise models from cyclist perception intercept surveys in Bogotá, Colombia, we uncovered factors that explain QoS. Model testing and site visits enrich the analysis of the six statistically significant variables that explain QoS. This research raises an interesting discussion on the general approach and philosophy of the bicycle infrastructure design guidelines and evidences that cyclists’ perceptions have substantial potential for future research and application.
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