How does air pollution influence cycling behaviour? Evidence from Beijing

It is widely believed air pollution is an obstacle to cycling as it has negative effects on cyclists’ health outcomes and deteriorates their cycling experiences. However, the empirical studies investigating the impact of air pollution on cycling behaviour remains scarce. The aim of this paper is to fill the gap by looking at Beijing as a case study. The authors conducted a survey of 307 cyclists on the days with different levels of air quality in terms of concentration of PM₂.₅ in 2015. The results show that in the polluted weather, those who persist in cycling are more likely to be male, over 30 years old, lower income or those who travel short distances. Specifically, female cyclists have a higher tendency to shift from cycling to public transit than the males and medium and high-income earners are more likely to shift to using a car than low income earners. The residents’ subjective perceptions of safety and comfort have major effects on their cycling behaviour. A higher perception of comfort and safety is related to a higher possibility of continuing cycling when air quality became polluted. Cycling for commuting trips is less likely to be replaced by other modes than cycling for non-commuting trips, such as shopping. Results of this study reveal that improving air quality in a metropolitan area such as Beijing has co-benefits of cycling renaissance. The huge investments into cycling infrastructure should be integrated with policies designed to create an attractive environment for cycling.


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  • Accession Number: 01677956
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jul 25 2018 3:09PM