How The Weather, Land Use, and Infrastructure Influence Non-Motorized Mode Choices

by Matthew Krantz Dunlap

Institution: University of Washington
Year: 2015
Keywords: Bicycle; Mode Choice; Modelling; Non-motorized; Civil engineering
Record ID: 2057855
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/1773/33121


Compared to many other developed nations, the United States is largely reliant on automobiles for satisfying the daily transportation needs of its citizens. This large demand of auto trips produces excessive amounts of congestion, environmentally harmful vehicle emissions, and does little to help our ongoing obesity epidemic. Galvanized by the problems facing our nation's current non-sustainable transportation system, government stakeholders are now actively promoting non-motorized forms of transportation as viable, and healthy alternatives to the auto for both individuals and our society as a whole. However, in order for the limited resources in non-motorized transportation to be spent wisely on infrastructure improvements, which will have the long term effect of significantly increasing the non-motorized mode share, a more thorough understanding of this understudied mode group is needed. By identifying the factors which influence non-motorized users, transportation engineers and planners will be more capable of eliminating specific deterrents of non-motorized transportation, as well as improving the relative attractiveness of modes such as biking and walking. In this thesis, factors affecting non-motorized mode choice will be examined. Firstly, the effect of weather variables on a population of bicyclists in the arid city of Albuquerque, NM will be analyzed in detail. It will be confirmed that weather conditions are strongly tied to daily bicycle demand and that the hourly bicycle distribution, indicative of the times of the day in which bicyclists choose to ride, shifts with seasonality. These findings have implications as we strive to build and manage livable communities to that are conducive to a full spectrum of modal alternatives. Secondly, the impact of infrastructure and land use on non-motorized mode choices will be investigated for the population of Seattle, WA. Utilizing individual trip information from a randomly administered household survey as well as rich spatial information pertaining the relevant built environment factors such as land density and urban non-motorized shared trails, binary discrete mode choice models are developed which help explain the relationship between the built environment and non-motorized activities. Significant contributing factors are identified and their impacts are quantified in terms of travelers' preferences on non-motorized travel modes. The research findings are helpful for developing appropriate policies and infrastructure deployments for enhancing transportation system sustainability.