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Build it and they will come? The effects of a new infrastructure on cycling practices and experiences

Patrick Rérat, Aurélie Schmassmann, Build it and they will come? The effects of a new infrastructure on cycling practices and experiences, Transportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives, Volume 25, 2024, 101121, ISSN 2590-1982,
Abstract: What are the effects of cycling infrastructure? This question is crucial as cities begin to give more space to cycling. In this paper, we propose to use the theoretical concept of affordance to consider not only what a cycle lane affords (or enables), but also how it does this and for whom. This has led us to consider three dimensions: (1) the number of cyclists using a route, (2) their characteristics and (3) their experience of cycling. We adopt an approach that combines counting, observation, and intercept surveys both before and then one year after the installation of a new 1.1 km cycle lane in Fribourg, Switzerland. A large increase in cycling traffic following the introduction of the cycle lane (+20 % on weekdays) reveals a latent demand that has been triggered by an improvement in cycling infrastructure. While the characteristics of cyclists (age, gender, etc.) did not fundamentally change, there was a clear improvement in the experience of cycling, particularly in terms of feeling safe. This effect is important, as developing cycling is not only about attracting new users but also reinforcing potentially fragile existing practices. Nonetheless, for a minority of users, the new infrastructure still does not meet safety expectations, and the lack of cycling amenities in the rest of the town limits the expansion of cycling. The approach we have designed could be replicated in other contexts by researchers, advocates, or professionals in order to obtain comparative data on cycling infrastructure. Keywords: Cycling infrastructure; Infrastructure intervention; User perspective; Evaluation; Affordance”


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