The long-term impacts of Bicing subscriptions among teenage youth
Experts claim that bike sharing programs may introduce non-cyclists to urban cycling, allowing them to gradually become comfortable with riding a bike in the city, gain confidence and potentially shift mobility patterns over the long run. Cities with highly successful bike sharing programs such as Barcelona have seen cycling increase throughout the city at the same time, and this increase in cycling has paralleled introduction of bike sharing programs. There seems to be some connection between bike sharing and overall cycling use, however the degree to which there are synergies has not been well quantified or studied. In particularly, no one has tested the “bridge hypothesis” in which bike sharing serves as a bridge for non-cyclists to introduce them to cycling and foster long term cycling habits. This research project proposes testing the bridge hypothesis with adolescent youth, aged 16-19. Teenagers and adolescents are beginning to develop their urban transportation habits and influencing their choices today may have a lasting impact on the city for a generation. How might the bike share programs engage with the adolescent population to create loyal membership and use? Should adolescents have special bike sharing tariffs in order to attract them to the service? Would a discount for youth translate into life-time membership and therefore be a smart strategy, both in terms of the service provider, but also for the city? Is it true that bike sharing serves as a catalyst to change mobility patterns and promote active transportation? These questions would be best answered in partnership with the bike sharing managers, in which we would develop an experimental framework that would compare the transit habits for adolescents randomized into three groups: Group (A) would receive a discounted tariff; Group (B) would be offered free and unlimited services and Group (C) would be a control group. This would allow us to empirically test the bridge hypothesis, estimate the long-term impacts of bike sharing on mobility patterns and also estimate the cost-effectiveness of the discounted rates for the long term revenue stream of the bike sharing service provider.
The Cycling Gender Gap Observatory
Surveys and studies on the cycling gender gap point at safety concerns (Sersli et al., 2021) and at women’s preference towards protected cycling infrastructure (Aldred et al., 2017). In 2021 we conducted a research project aimed to measure the evolution of the gender gap in Barcelona. Data collected aligned with previous studies that placed the gender gap on cycling in 2:1 or 2 male cyclists for every female cyclist (Lind et al 2021). In addition to cyclists, we looked at gender differences among bike share users, electric scooters, micro mobility users, and cycle food delivery. The data was collected via direct observation in different cycling infrastructure designs in order to see if street design supposed any variation in the gender gap. We counted people cycling in a busy street with no cycling infrastructure, a shared lane of cycling and motorised traffic, protected lanes in one and two directions placed in the center and in one side of the street. We are looking for students interested in continuing this research so that we can measure changes year to year on the gender gap in urban cycling. No experience in cycling or urban research is necessary. This would provide valuable, original and timely data to inform cycling policies.
The risk of bike theft is often cited as a reason for not purchasing a bike. Fear of bike theft severely limits cycling mobility in many cities. Those who enjoy recreational cycling with expensive bikes rarely use their high-end bike for daily mobility, citing the fear of bike theft. Fear of bike theft also has motivated city governments and private ventures to invest in protected bike structures. However larger and permanent bike structures are difficult to replicate at scale because of their size, expense, and extensive public space that some may occupy. Fear of bike theft has also been cited by parents as a reason why they are unwilling to let their children ride their bikes to school. But are these fears of bike theft justified? What are the patterns in bike theft in the city? How many bikes are stolen per year? Why types of bikes? Which neighbourhoods and under which conditions? What is the probability of bike theft per neighbourhood? Or by type of bike? Or time of day? This research project would aim to summarize what is known about the bike theft problem in Barcelona. Then, it would develop a field experiment with locked and unlocked bikes to learn about the risk of bike theft in various neighbourhoods. We would like to explore a research design that would leave real bikes to see if or how long it takes for the bike to be stolen. The expenses associated with the (potentially stolen) bikes would be covered by the research program, however the student would need to lead the research design and implementation. We may need to think about multiple research designs and strategies to efficiently use our resources, working with both data reported by owners of stolen bikes as well as experimental data that we may generate ourselves using field experiments and direct observation.