Widening the Gap? Area-level Associations between Bicycle Commuting, Sociodemographic Advantage, and Bike Lane Access in 22 U.S. Cities

While past research has found bike lanes to be positively associated with cycling, few studies have considered whether these associations vary by sociodemographic characteristics such as race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status (SES). Similarly, while bike lane investment is often seen as a method for reducing sociodemographic disparities in cycling and health, limited research has examined whether cycling disparities are, in fact, lower in places with bike lanes. To address these gaps, the author examined cross- sectional associations of bicycle commuting mode shares (dependent variable) with sociodemographic advantage and bike lane presence (independent variables) in 22 U.S. cities, using block groups as the unit of analysis. Sociodemographic characteristics included six block group-level measures of race, ethnicity, and SES. The author used multilevel mixed-effects regression models with interaction terms to assess (1) whether associations between bike lane presence and bicycle commuting were moderated by each sociodemographic characteristic and (2) whether disparities in bicycle commuting (i.e. higher bicycle commuting mode shares in block groups with greater sociodemographic advantage) were moderated by bike lane presence. Across all sociodemographic characteristics, (1) associations between bike lanes and bicycle commuting were stronger among more advantaged block groups and (2) disparities in bicycle commuting were more pronounced among block groups that contained bike lanes. These findings suggest that bike lane investment could have the unintended consequence of widening the gap in cycling between more- and less-advantaged places. An expanded conceptualization of “access” that addresses non- infrastructure barriers to cycling is needed if bike lane investment is to effectively advance social equity goals.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • This paper was sponsored by TRB committee ANF20 Standing Committee on Bicycle Transportation.
  • Corporate Authors:

    Transportation Research Board

  • Authors:
    • Braun, Lindsay M
  • Conference:
  • Date: 2019


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 15p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01697855
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: 19-05013
  • Files: TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Dec 7 2018 9:40AM