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Bicycle Infrastructure Improvement Study and Implementation Plan

The Urban Information Lab at the University of Texas at Austin will conduct a 3-phase study to evaluate the university's bicycle infrastructure and policies. Phase 1 will inventory existing bike lanes, racks, and other infrastructure. Phase 2 will collect data from smartphone apps on biking routes, issues, and preferences. Phase 3 will analyze the findings to identify specific improvements like expanding bike lanes and facilities to increase biking and support sustainability goals. The goal is to provide a detailed plan to convert car drivers to bike commuters and better support biking on campus.

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SustainabilityontheUTCampus:ASymposiumEssaysUrbanInformationLab,BikeInfrastructure
Urban Information Lab,
Bike Infrastructure
Zack Lofton
Graduate Research Assistant, Community and Regional
Planning, Urban Information Lab
zlofton1217@gmail.com
Junfeng Jiao, PhD
Assistant Professor, Community and Regional Planning
According to the United States
Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) the greatest amount of global
greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from
1990-2012 came from the use of fossil
fuels, including petroleum. There are a
number of sectors responsible for this,
but transportation is one of the largest
contributors to America’s GHG emissions,
representing about 28% of the nation’s
total.1
In light of this reality, encouraging
alternative means of transportation is
of utmost importance for making our
cities and communities more sustainable
on a broad scale. Active transportation
options like cycling and walking are
two of the most obvious means of
sustainable transportation. After all,
choosing to ride a bicycle or walk is more
energy efficient and reduces the number
of cars and amount of congestion on the
roads. Moreover, active transportation
also has great potential for positively
impacting communities through
social sustainability and economic
development. As more people utilize
bicycles for transport, the potential
for spontaneous social interaction
grows and the likelihood of revenue
generation in the community increases
considerably.2
These are just a few of
the factors that bicycle transportation
tangibly contributes to sustainability
ideas that cities are seeking to adopt and
employ.
In view of this, the time is now to focus
our approach to how we, here at The
University of Texas at Austin, address
transportation in our community with
a deep consideration for its overall
sustainability. Over the course of the
2015-2016 academic year, the Urban
Information Lab (UIL) is taking on a
comprehensive and multi-tier evaluation
of the University’s bicycle policies and
infrastructure in order to develop a
campus plan to address current and
future issues in pursuit of the University’s
sustainability goals. The intent of this
work is to help the University convert
many of its automobile drivers to bike
riders. With the 2009-2010 Parking and
Transportation Services (PTS) Annual
Report stating that the cycling mode
share was at only 7%, there is much room 85
SustainabilityontheUTCampus:ASymposiumEssays
for improvement.3
This will positively
contribute to the PTS program entitled
Green on the Go, which seeks to reduce
congestion and pollution attributed to
single occupancy vehicles on campus.
Our project, which has received
funding from the Green Fee and will
be underway by September 2015, will
analyze bicycle traffic and infrastructure
using a three-phase method. We will be
incorporating smartphone apps to invite
students to report their biking routes
and usage, as well as note problematic
areas of bicycle traffic on campus.4
This
project will leverage a number of apps
and technologies in a critical way, which
will help the UIL accurately pinpoint
some of the things that limit cycling or
act as deterrents for those who wish to
commute to campus by bicycle.
During Phase 1 of the study, the UIL
will provide an extensive evaluation
of current bicycle infrastructure and
institutional support. In this preliminary
phase, we will inventory current bicycle
support infrastructure on campus,
including, but not limited to: bike
lanes, bike racks, bike lockers, showers,
and campus-adjacent City of Austin
provisions serving the University
community. In addition, we will analyze
University data concerning shuttle
usage, parking pass purchases, and
other relevant available data from
PTS in order to identify the campus
population to be targeted in future
phases. This inventory will be mapped
using geographic information systems
(GIS) to establish the University’s
baseline bicycle framework. We will
then do in-depth analysis to ensure we
understand as much as possible about
the context of bicycling on campus. This
intensive analysis approach will provide
detailed insight and will make us better
able to brainstorm and formulate ideas
for designing and prescribing a more
hospitable and enticing environment for
bicyclists in our university context.
In Phase 2, we will mobilize technology
and smartphone apps to solicit and
process information from current and
future bicycle users. Research will be
conducted on actual bike commuting
traffic patterns and usage through digital
technologies and social interactions.
In this phase, the UIL will initiate data
collection in a few distinct areas using
online surveys and self-reported
smartphone data from volunteers in
the University community. This activity
will utilize the free“CycleTracks”app
that bicyclists can use to track their
bicycle routes, travel time, and trip
purposes. The UIL will then collect this
data for analysis on bicyclists’behavior.
Developed by the San Francisco County
Transportation Authority, CycleTracks
has been used by the University
Transportation Center for Mobility
department of the Texas Transportation
Institute to evaluate cyclist behavior
and trip purpose.5
Not only will this app
allow us to gain insight into preferences
and habits, but it will also enable us to
more precisely pinpoint bicycle travel
demand at a spatial level. Students will
also be invited to use the free“Make It
So!”app, developed by the InfoGraphics
Lab at the University of Oregon to log
issues with campus bike infrastructure
(i.e. lane obstruction) through location
information, commentary, and photos.
Together, these two apps will provide
greater clarity and transparency for
the true inclinations of bicyclist and
evaluations of current and desired
infrastructure.
UrbanInformationLab,BikeInfrastructure
Figure 1. Pilot Project Protected Bike lane in Portland, OR—Mother Nature Network’s most sustainable
U.S. city due in part to its implementation of a strong bicycle network. This sort of bicycle infrastructure is
similar to what is currently on the west side of Guadalupe St. on the Drag and could also be appropriate for
other areas on campus. (photo credit: peopleforbikes.com)
86
SustainabilityontheUTCampus:ASymposiumEssays
During the project’s final phase we
will analyze the findings of Phase 1
and Phase 2 to identify specific paths
of action on bicycle infrastructure and
commuter support that are tailored
to the University’s built environment,
traffic patterns, and Campus Master Plan.
We will identify a few of the most key
issues including: a) the spatial mismatch
between current infrastructure and
actual usage, b) dangerous, missing or
faulty areas of bicycle infrastructure and
traffic patterns, c) specific measures for
attracting and retaining bike commuters,
and d) areas for smart expansion of
bicycle facilities (i.e. showers, lockers)
and infrastructure (i.e. lanes, way-
finding). The data we collect from the
smartphone apps and surveys will be
used to consider all of these factors with
the intention of decreasing automobile
use and increasing bicycle use. We will
portray these factors digitally using
GIS and tactilely by building a physical
model of campus with proposed areas
for improvement. The findings will be
packaged in a readable, user-friendly,
and action-ready Bicycle Infrastructure
Improvement Study and Implementation
Plan report, which will be provided to
University stakeholders.
UrbanInformationLab,BikeInfrastructure
Figure 2. Grade-separated Cycle Track in Ljubljana, Slovenia, the 2016 European Green Capital. This is another type of protected bike lane with a grade separation—
appropriate for areas with less right-of-way space. (photo credit: copenhagenize.com)
87
SustainabilityontheUTCampus:ASymposiumEssays
The ultimate goal of this project is to
provide a detailed road map for the
University to support its sustainability
goals and substantially increase the
bicycle transportation mode share
by converting car drivers to bike
commuters. Throughout this project,
the UIL is leveraging a variety of
smartphone apps and technologies
to focus on understanding the built
environment through spatial analysis,
data collection, and user feedback. This
research and data analysis will enable
us to provide detailed solutions for a
more hospitable, multi-modal campus
and thereby positively influence the
University’s sustainability goals. As we
further develop alternative modes of
transportation, such as bicycling, we
are directly impacting the built form
and contributing to a more socially and
ecologically sustainable environment for
the University of Texas at Austin and all
of its community.
References:
1. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,“Fast
Facts: U.S. Transportation Sector Greenhouse
Gas Emissions 1990-2012,”http://www.epa.
gov/otaq/climate/documents/420f15002.pdf.
2. “Bicycling Means Business: The
Economic Benefits of Bicycle Infrastructure,”
last modified July 2012, http://www.
advocacyadvance.org/site_images/content/
Final_Econ_Update(small).pdf.
3.“The University of Texas at Austin Campus
Master Plan, Fall 2012”. http://www.
utexas.edu/campusplanning/masterplan/
documents/MasterPlan_Appendix20130509.
pdf.
4. The University of Texas at Austin Parking
and Transportation Services,“Green on
the Go,”http://www.utexas.edu/parking/
transportation/.
5. Hudson, J., Duthie, J., Rathod, Y., Larsen,
K., and J. Meyer. 2012.“Using Smartphones
to Collect Bicycle Travel Data in Texas.”
University Transportation Center for Mobility,
Texas Transportation Institute at Texas
A&M University. Accessed 27 Feb 2015:
http://ntl.bts.gov/lib/45000/45700/45731/
Hudson_11-35-69.pdf
6. InfoGraphics Lab. 2012. MakeItSo!
Smartphone Application. Accessed 25 Feb
2015: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/
makeitso!/id500252258?mt=8
7. Mother Nature Network,“Top 10 Green
US Cities,”http://www.mnn.com/health/
allergies/photos/top-10-green-us-cities/1-
portland-ore.
UrbanInformationLab,BikeInfrastructure
88

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Bicycle Infrastructure Improvement Study and Implementation Plan

  • 1. SustainabilityontheUTCampus:ASymposiumEssaysUrbanInformationLab,BikeInfrastructure Urban Information Lab, Bike Infrastructure Zack Lofton Graduate Research Assistant, Community and Regional Planning, Urban Information Lab zlofton1217@gmail.com Junfeng Jiao, PhD Assistant Professor, Community and Regional Planning According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the greatest amount of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from 1990-2012 came from the use of fossil fuels, including petroleum. There are a number of sectors responsible for this, but transportation is one of the largest contributors to America’s GHG emissions, representing about 28% of the nation’s total.1 In light of this reality, encouraging alternative means of transportation is of utmost importance for making our cities and communities more sustainable on a broad scale. Active transportation options like cycling and walking are two of the most obvious means of sustainable transportation. After all, choosing to ride a bicycle or walk is more energy efficient and reduces the number of cars and amount of congestion on the roads. Moreover, active transportation also has great potential for positively impacting communities through social sustainability and economic development. As more people utilize bicycles for transport, the potential for spontaneous social interaction grows and the likelihood of revenue generation in the community increases considerably.2 These are just a few of the factors that bicycle transportation tangibly contributes to sustainability ideas that cities are seeking to adopt and employ. In view of this, the time is now to focus our approach to how we, here at The University of Texas at Austin, address transportation in our community with a deep consideration for its overall sustainability. Over the course of the 2015-2016 academic year, the Urban Information Lab (UIL) is taking on a comprehensive and multi-tier evaluation of the University’s bicycle policies and infrastructure in order to develop a campus plan to address current and future issues in pursuit of the University’s sustainability goals. The intent of this work is to help the University convert many of its automobile drivers to bike riders. With the 2009-2010 Parking and Transportation Services (PTS) Annual Report stating that the cycling mode share was at only 7%, there is much room 85
  • 2. SustainabilityontheUTCampus:ASymposiumEssays for improvement.3 This will positively contribute to the PTS program entitled Green on the Go, which seeks to reduce congestion and pollution attributed to single occupancy vehicles on campus. Our project, which has received funding from the Green Fee and will be underway by September 2015, will analyze bicycle traffic and infrastructure using a three-phase method. We will be incorporating smartphone apps to invite students to report their biking routes and usage, as well as note problematic areas of bicycle traffic on campus.4 This project will leverage a number of apps and technologies in a critical way, which will help the UIL accurately pinpoint some of the things that limit cycling or act as deterrents for those who wish to commute to campus by bicycle. During Phase 1 of the study, the UIL will provide an extensive evaluation of current bicycle infrastructure and institutional support. In this preliminary phase, we will inventory current bicycle support infrastructure on campus, including, but not limited to: bike lanes, bike racks, bike lockers, showers, and campus-adjacent City of Austin provisions serving the University community. In addition, we will analyze University data concerning shuttle usage, parking pass purchases, and other relevant available data from PTS in order to identify the campus population to be targeted in future phases. This inventory will be mapped using geographic information systems (GIS) to establish the University’s baseline bicycle framework. We will then do in-depth analysis to ensure we understand as much as possible about the context of bicycling on campus. This intensive analysis approach will provide detailed insight and will make us better able to brainstorm and formulate ideas for designing and prescribing a more hospitable and enticing environment for bicyclists in our university context. In Phase 2, we will mobilize technology and smartphone apps to solicit and process information from current and future bicycle users. Research will be conducted on actual bike commuting traffic patterns and usage through digital technologies and social interactions. In this phase, the UIL will initiate data collection in a few distinct areas using online surveys and self-reported smartphone data from volunteers in the University community. This activity will utilize the free“CycleTracks”app that bicyclists can use to track their bicycle routes, travel time, and trip purposes. The UIL will then collect this data for analysis on bicyclists’behavior. Developed by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, CycleTracks has been used by the University Transportation Center for Mobility department of the Texas Transportation Institute to evaluate cyclist behavior and trip purpose.5 Not only will this app allow us to gain insight into preferences and habits, but it will also enable us to more precisely pinpoint bicycle travel demand at a spatial level. Students will also be invited to use the free“Make It So!”app, developed by the InfoGraphics Lab at the University of Oregon to log issues with campus bike infrastructure (i.e. lane obstruction) through location information, commentary, and photos. Together, these two apps will provide greater clarity and transparency for the true inclinations of bicyclist and evaluations of current and desired infrastructure. UrbanInformationLab,BikeInfrastructure Figure 1. Pilot Project Protected Bike lane in Portland, OR—Mother Nature Network’s most sustainable U.S. city due in part to its implementation of a strong bicycle network. This sort of bicycle infrastructure is similar to what is currently on the west side of Guadalupe St. on the Drag and could also be appropriate for other areas on campus. (photo credit: peopleforbikes.com) 86
  • 3. SustainabilityontheUTCampus:ASymposiumEssays During the project’s final phase we will analyze the findings of Phase 1 and Phase 2 to identify specific paths of action on bicycle infrastructure and commuter support that are tailored to the University’s built environment, traffic patterns, and Campus Master Plan. We will identify a few of the most key issues including: a) the spatial mismatch between current infrastructure and actual usage, b) dangerous, missing or faulty areas of bicycle infrastructure and traffic patterns, c) specific measures for attracting and retaining bike commuters, and d) areas for smart expansion of bicycle facilities (i.e. showers, lockers) and infrastructure (i.e. lanes, way- finding). The data we collect from the smartphone apps and surveys will be used to consider all of these factors with the intention of decreasing automobile use and increasing bicycle use. We will portray these factors digitally using GIS and tactilely by building a physical model of campus with proposed areas for improvement. The findings will be packaged in a readable, user-friendly, and action-ready Bicycle Infrastructure Improvement Study and Implementation Plan report, which will be provided to University stakeholders. UrbanInformationLab,BikeInfrastructure Figure 2. Grade-separated Cycle Track in Ljubljana, Slovenia, the 2016 European Green Capital. This is another type of protected bike lane with a grade separation— appropriate for areas with less right-of-way space. (photo credit: copenhagenize.com) 87
  • 4. SustainabilityontheUTCampus:ASymposiumEssays The ultimate goal of this project is to provide a detailed road map for the University to support its sustainability goals and substantially increase the bicycle transportation mode share by converting car drivers to bike commuters. Throughout this project, the UIL is leveraging a variety of smartphone apps and technologies to focus on understanding the built environment through spatial analysis, data collection, and user feedback. This research and data analysis will enable us to provide detailed solutions for a more hospitable, multi-modal campus and thereby positively influence the University’s sustainability goals. As we further develop alternative modes of transportation, such as bicycling, we are directly impacting the built form and contributing to a more socially and ecologically sustainable environment for the University of Texas at Austin and all of its community. References: 1. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,“Fast Facts: U.S. Transportation Sector Greenhouse Gas Emissions 1990-2012,”http://www.epa. gov/otaq/climate/documents/420f15002.pdf. 2. “Bicycling Means Business: The Economic Benefits of Bicycle Infrastructure,” last modified July 2012, http://www. advocacyadvance.org/site_images/content/ Final_Econ_Update(small).pdf. 3.“The University of Texas at Austin Campus Master Plan, Fall 2012”. http://www. utexas.edu/campusplanning/masterplan/ documents/MasterPlan_Appendix20130509. pdf. 4. The University of Texas at Austin Parking and Transportation Services,“Green on the Go,”http://www.utexas.edu/parking/ transportation/. 5. Hudson, J., Duthie, J., Rathod, Y., Larsen, K., and J. Meyer. 2012.“Using Smartphones to Collect Bicycle Travel Data in Texas.” University Transportation Center for Mobility, Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University. Accessed 27 Feb 2015: http://ntl.bts.gov/lib/45000/45700/45731/ Hudson_11-35-69.pdf 6. InfoGraphics Lab. 2012. MakeItSo! Smartphone Application. Accessed 25 Feb 2015: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ makeitso!/id500252258?mt=8 7. Mother Nature Network,“Top 10 Green US Cities,”http://www.mnn.com/health/ allergies/photos/top-10-green-us-cities/1- portland-ore. UrbanInformationLab,BikeInfrastructure 88