Social (in)equity in access to cycling infrastructure: Cross-sectional associations between bike lanes and area-level sociodemographic characteristics in 22 large U.S. cities

Lindsay Maurer Braun, Daniel A. Rodriguez, Penny Gordon-Larsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Cycling advocates have recently argued that low-income and minority communities across the U.S. have disproportionately low access to bike lanes. To date, however, quantitative evidence of disparities in access to bike lanes has been limited to a small number of cities. We addressed this research gap by examining cross-sectional associations between bike lanes and sociodemographic characteristics at the block group level for 22 large U.S. cities (n = 21,843 block groups). Dependent variables included the presence (yes/no), coverage, connectivity, and proximity of bike lanes, measured using secondary GIS data collected by each of the 22 cities between 2012 and 2016. Primary independent variables included indicators of race, ethnicity, educational attainment, income, poverty, and a composite socioeconomic status (SES) index, all measured using data from the 2011–2015 American Community Survey. We used linear and logistic multilevel mixed-effects regression models to estimate associations between these sociodemographic characteristics and each bike lane dependent variable, before and after adjusting for traditional indicators of cycling demand (population and employment density, distance to downtown, population age structure, bicycle commuting levels). In unadjusted associations, disadvantaged block groups (i.e. lower SES, higher proportions of minority residents) had significantly lower access to bike lanes. After adjusting for indicators of cycling demand, access to bike lanes was lower in block groups with particular types of disadvantage (lower educational attainment, higher proportions of Hispanic residents, lower composite SES) but not in those with other types of disadvantage (higher proportions of black residents, lower income, higher poverty). These results provide empirical support for advocates' claims of disparities in bike lane access, suggesting the importance of more closely considering social equity in bicycle planning and advocacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102544
JournalJournal of Transport Geography
StatePublished - Oct 2019



  • Bike lanes
  • Cycling
  • Disparities
  • Equity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Transportation
  • Environmental Science(all)

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