1.0 Background Information
In the year 1645, a French inventor developed a small vehicle with four wheels which was powered by two men instead of horses. This invention planted the seed in the bicycle industry. In 1818, the first wooden two-wheeler appeared in Paris, France. By the time 1865 rolled around, the famous Micheaux family began producing approximately 400 bikes per year. One of the Micheaux's mechanics moved to the United States, where he proposed the idea of the bicycle to an American in the state of Connetticut. In 1866, that same American took out the first United States patent on the bicycle. Following this, there was a significant weight reduction the design of the bicycle throughout the last thirty years of the century. In 1901, multiple gears were invented, while the diamond frame shape continued well into the 20th century. The first cross frame design appeared in 1962, and is now the predominant frame design used in industry today (Bicycles/Cycling - Victoria BC, 1997). In the United States, the number of people commuting to work by bicycle, on a regular basis, has more than tripled in the last fifty years and is now at more than 3 million (Lowe, 1994, p.91). It is estimated that there are over 800 million bicycles in use worldwide; bicycles outnumber cars by more than two to one (Lowe, 1990, p.118).
1.2 The Need for a Bicycle Revolution
With environmental concerns and human health at the forefront of global issues, the automobile as the main mode of transportation for short commutes (up to 8 km) must be scrutinized. Global environmental problems, such as global warming, and localized environmental concerns, such as air pollution, are having an enormous impact on human and ecological systems. Automobiles produce more air pollution than any other human activity in the world and they are responsible for approximately 20% of the world output of carbon dioxide (Lowe, 1990, p.123). Bicycles provide a low cost, environmentally friendly way to travel short distances in a reasonably quick amount of time. In Asia and some western European countries, the bicycle is already a main mode of transportation and it is time the Western world followed suit.
1.3 The Benefits of Bicycling
There are several benefits to commuting by bicycle on a regular basis (Ross, 1997):
1.4 Bicycle Commuting and Communities
Almost two decades ago, a national legislation act was passed in Japan that requires railways and private businesses, under each local government, provide ample and efficient bicycle parking for the masses. As of 1990, there were over 8600 of these parking sites in operation with an incredible capacity for 2.4 million bicycles (Lowe, 1990, p.129)! Due to congestion and the value of downtown space in Japan, there have been many innovative approaches taken to providing bicycle parking. Many of the rail stations have created multi-level parking stations, where bikes are moved around by cranes (Lowe, 1990, p.129) --where there is a will there is a way!
A great example of how a society has integrated cycling into its transporatation management is the Dutch system. With similar climatic conditions and a crazy amount of wind on an annual basis, the Dutch faces many of the same conditions as the Region of Waterloo. The Dutch government is a strong advocate of cycling, discouraging the use of automobiles in urban areas whenever possible. In 1993, over 28% of Dutch commuter trips were being made via bicycle (Burdett, 1993). In the Dutch city of Groningen, the largest city in the northern Netherlands, over 50% of trips are made by bicycle (Lowe, 1990, p.129). This is a result of the implementation of a number of measures identified by the governments' Bicycle Master Plan. Included in these measures was narrowing streets to increase pedestrian and bicyclist comfort and closing the centre of Groningen to cars (Burdett, 1993).
1.5 Bicycle Commuting and the Region of Waterloo
In 1994, the Region of Waterloo conducted a study called 'Regional Cycling Policy Master Plan' . This plan included a possible future blueprint for the Region as well as the City of Waterloo. The vision used by the Region from the outset of the study was as follows:
"The Regional Cycling Policy Master Plan provides guidelines for the Region, Area Municipalities and the public to work towards an integrated cycling system over the next 50 years (IMC Consulting Group Inc., 1994, p.1)."
Its focus was on 'developing a network of regional cycling facilities' which would be complemented by 'cycling support programs.' The study was very comprehensive and delved deeply into many issues (IMC Consulting Group Inc., 1994, pp.8-10):
The Region stresses that these educational programs and activities must not emphasize fear of motor vehicles or bad weather conditions and also that they be geared for the average cyclist and not to the expert cyclist;
In particular, some of the regions' study objectives are mirrored by our project. For example:
This is the goal of our survey; determining the needs and wants of the UW community with regards to cycling as a form of commuting. By focusing on only the cyclist we are not taking as comprehensive an approach. However, the results of the Regions study, many of which are listed above, will be interesting to compare with ours.
The studies they used and the criteria for their study helped us to decide what to include on our survey. In particular, they used the 1993 WATgreen Bikeways study to identify those factors which would encourage non-cyclists to cycle to campus. The majority of these factors are listed in question #17 of our survey. We built upon the Regions' list to come up with the main question we used to evaluate the current cycling system. The list the Region used to identify those concerns and make preliminary recommendations is as follows (IMC Consulting Group Inc., 1994, p.19):
Once we have obtained and analyzed the results of our survey, the final component of our project is to make some recommendations based on our findings. For example, if we find that one of the greatest concerns is a general lack of education on cycling issues, we can make a recommendation to the University to consider running a bike safety campaign on campus. The results of the region's study, as previously mentioned, have given us many ideas as to what activities might work the best, however, their educational component was not comprehensive.
The purpose of our survey is to provide the University of Waterloo community with an opportunity to tell us what they would like to see, in order to provide them with safer, more efficient bike infrastructure. Our final project document will remain as this web site after we have completed the course so that anyone in the world can have access to our findings.
The Region of Waterloo's Cycling Policy Master Plan helped us with many aspects of our study proposal. It gave us an example which we used to model our survey questions after (see Methodology), in order to take a comprehensive approach to addressing all potential concerns of both cyclists and those who do not cycle (often). This information was obtained through a section in the Master Plan called "Cyclists' Needs and Concerns". The report itself, however, was a broad ranging study, which only attempted to set up a basic infrastructure for cycling in the region, to be implemented and monitored over a fifty year time span. Because of this, the results and recommendations of the report were very generalized; there were no specific plans laid out by the master plan itself, only broad recommendations. To list every one of the results and recommendations would be to reproduce the entire plan strategy. If you are interested in finding out more about the Master Plan, contact the Region of Waterloo Engineering Department.
1.6 Bicycle Commuting and Other Universities
A bird's eye view of the Stanford University Campus shows a picturesque community with an intricate and highly organized transportation infrastructure. Stanford is the only school we have come across in our research that has a full time Bike Program Co-ordinater. They have a transportation management program that is second to no other campus in North America; we would do well to learn from their example. The Stanford Bicycle Program has much to offer: free bike maps of the area and campus, free bike commute route planning advice, information on the location of showers, clothes locker rentals, and a program called 'bike buddy' which assists first time bike commuters. (Ciccarelli, "Biking", 1997). Their public transportation system, both on and off campus, allows anyone to bring their bike on board the bus, while making trips either around campus or around the area off campus. They also offer 'Clean Air Credits' to all commuters, which consist of $80 per year in incentives if they do not purchase a parking permit (Ciccarelli, "Transportation", 1997). In their mandate, Stanford claims to have a 'committment to responsible transportation management,' we believe they have proved their point well, according to the following statistics (Ciccarelli, "Biking", 1997):
Stanford added and upgraded 2000 bike rack parking spaces during the 1994-95 school year and have plans to add another 1000 this year. They will also be adding more clothes lockers, showers and are starting an enclosed bike storage program this year (Ciccarelli, "Biking", 1997). Stanford believes that having an efficient transportation management program reduces congestion, reduces pollution, preserves open spaces and saves them a great deal of money (Ciccarelli, "Transportation", 1997).
1.7 Bicycling and Past Projects at the University of Waterloo
In the Winter term of 1994 a group of ERS 285 students completed a bicycle related project called Bikeways (1994). The project focused on determining those factors which both encourage and discourage people from riding to school. Overall, we feel it was a good report and project. By studying this project we learned effective sampling design. The Bikeways group used a reliable random sampling method, which we have used in our project (see Methodology). We also used their survey as a starting point, or a basis on which to build our survey. Some of their questions were limited and thus may not have been as effective as they could have been in drawing responses from the survey audience. We recognized these weaknesses and built upon them to ensure our suvey would be as comprehensive as possible.
We also learned not to make assumptions based on old data. Firstly, old data may no longer be accurate, and secondly, it may come from an unreliable source. In the Bikeways paper, under section 1.4, there is a quote from the 1991 ERS 285 Transportation System Study which dictates that one third of people who drove to campus could have come by bike or foot (Daniels et al., 1991, p.15). This, based on the sampling design used in the 1991 Transportation paper, is not a reliable piece of information. The sampling design used by the 1991 group was based on poor statistical design and employed 'accidental' sampling, which we feel does not allow for an accurate representation of the population. The Transportation System Study group paper showed us how not to perform many aspects of our project; in this sense it was a great learning tool. In general, the paper was short, but not concise and to the point, its objectives were not consistent and its survey was very limited in its effectiveness.
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Last Update April 15, 1997 jw