New Project (TRCLC 15-13)

TRCLC 15-13: Exploring Bicycle Route Choice Behavior with Space Syntax Analysis

PI: Ziqi Song, Utah State University


Cycling provides an environmentally friendly alternative mode of transportation. It improves urban mobility, livability and public health, and it also helps with reducing traffic congestion and emissions. Although the mode share of bicycle accounts for a relatively small percentage of all trips taken in the United States, cycling is gaining popularity both as a recreational activity and a means of transportation. Therefore, to better serve and promote bicycle transportation, there is an acute need to understand the route choice behavior of cyclists. Unfortunately, there are only a limited number of studies investigating this issue.

Compared to the route choice model for private motorized vehicles, route choice behavior for bicycles is much more complex as there are many influential factors affecting cyclists’ route choice decisions. Empirical studies on bicycle route choice analysis indicate that cyclists choose routes based on a number of criteria that may include distance, number of intersections, road grade, bicycle facility, and safety. Nevertheless, existing studies tend to be based on observable quantities associated with the street segments themselves, but overlook a fundamental issue, travelers’ cognitive understanding of the network configuration. This research is an exploratory study with the goal of understanding cyclists’ route choice decisions and evaluating the applicability of a spatial analysis technique, space syntax theory in the context of bicycle route choice. 

The study has three objectives as follows: (1) establishing a procedure of applying space syntax theory to model cyclists’ route choice decisions, (2) exploring the relationships between space syntax and other bicycle-related attributes and bicycle movement, and (3) conducting a real-world case study using the methodology proposed.