Short-term planning and policy interventions to promote cycling in urban centers: Findings from a commute mode choice analysis in Barcelona, Spain

Lindsay M. Braun, Daniel A. Rodriguez, Tom Cole-Hunter, Albert Ambros, David Donaire-Gonzalez, Michael Jerrett, Michelle A. Mendez, Mark J. Nieuwenhuijsen, Audrey de Nazelle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Cycling for transportation has become an increasingly important component of strategies to address public health, climate change, and air quality concerns in urban centers. Within this context, planners and policy makers would benefit from an improved understanding of available interventions and their relative effectiveness for cycling promotion. We examined predictors of bicycle commuting that are relevant to planning and policy intervention, particularly those amenable to short- and medium-term action. Methods: We estimated a travel mode choice model using data from a survey of 765 commuters who live and work within the municipality of Barcelona. We considered how the decision to commute by bicycle was associated with cycling infrastructure, bike share availability, travel demand incentives, and other environmental attributes (e.g., public transport availability). Self-reported and objective (GIS-based) measures were compared. Point elasticities and marginal effects were calculated to assess the relative explanatory power of the independent variables considered. Results: While both self-reported and objective measures of access to cycling infrastructure were associated with bicycle commuting, self-reported measures had stronger associations. Bicycle commuting had positive associations with access to bike share stations but inverse associations with access to public transport stops. Point elasticities suggested that bicycle commuting has a mild negative correlation with public transport availability (-0.136), bike share availability is more important at the work location (0.077) than at home (0.034), and bicycle lane presence has a relatively small association with bicycle commuting (0.039). Marginal effects suggested that provision of an employer-based incentive not to commute by private vehicle would be associated with an 11.3% decrease in the probability of commuting by bicycle, likely reflecting the typical emphasis of such incentives on public transport. Conclusions: The results provide evidence of modal competition between cycling and public transport, through the presence of public transport stops and the provision of public transport-oriented travel demand incentives. Education and awareness campaigns that influence perceptions of cycling infrastructure availability, travel demand incentives that encourage cycling, and policies that integrate public transport and cycling may be promising and cost-effective strategies to promote cycling in the short to medium term.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)164-183
Number of pages20
JournalTransportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Bike share
  • Built environment
  • Cycling
  • Infrastructure
  • Policy
  • Programs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • Transportation
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Management Science and Operations Research


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