2018 - Research

Arlington County Commuter Services: Walking and Biking Barriers Study

Key takeaway:

  • Arlington County residents identified the following barriers for walking and bicycling: general disregard for traffic laws; lack of access to availability of a comfortable route; the conditions and types of infrastructure; and required professional appearances and attire at workplaces. 

Results:

  • BikeArlington, WalkArlington, and Mobility Lab sought to understand barriers for Arlington County residents from walking and bicycling as their modes of transportation. Five areas of barriers were explored: traffic and cars, personal factors, infrastructure, personal safety, and family/home life.
  • Factors concerning traffic and cars that influenced people’s decisions about walking and bicycling included: the time of day; general disregard for traffic laws by drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists; congested roads; and the availability and normativity of alternative modes of transportation (i.e., public transportation, cars).
  • Personal factors that influenced people’s decisions to walk or bike included the type of job culture and whether it required professional attire, commuting distance, and weather.
  • With respect to infrastructure, people’s decisions to walk or bike were influenced by the availability, conditions, and qualities of bike lanes and multi-use trails; road conditions; availability and accessibility of bike storage; road construction; and new developments.
  • Personal safety factors that influenced people’s decisions to walk or bike included nighttime visibility and lighting, presence of law enforcement, perceived harassment of women, shared bike lanes with cars, and carrying capacity.
  • Factors around family and home life that influenced people’s decisions to walk or bike included juggling multiple responsibilities with time constraints, childcare responsibilities, and peer behavior.
  • Women perceived personal safety, hair, and childcare responsibilities as barriers to walking and biking, while men didn’t mention these factors.
  • The researchers didn’t find differences between respondents based on race/ethnicity or geographical location within Arlington County.
  • Participants suggested the following key strategies to improve walking and bicycling: improving pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, organizing community bike rides, providing tips and strategies on maintaining professional attire, and educating people (drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians) on road rules.

 

Implications:

  • Improving bike lanes and multi-use trails, particularly by ensuring consistency in bike lanes, providing physical separation from motorized vehicles, and establishing network connections between neighborhoods, will encourage more bicycling.
  • Improving the infrastructure of sidewalks, crosswalks, traffic signals, and lighting and signage will encourage more walking.
  • Employer incentives, such as on-site amenities (i.e., showers, safe bicycle parking, changing rooms) may encourage people to bike or walk to work more.

 Methods:

  • BikeArlington and WalkArlington, in collaboration with Mobility Lab, conducted qualitative research with Arlington County residents or employees interested in commuting by walking and bicycling. Participants took photographs and participated in focus groups discussions around the following themes: traffic and cars, personal factors, infrastructure, personal safety, and family/home life.

 Arlington County Commuter Services. (2017). Arlington County Commuter Services: Walking and Biking Barriers Study.