Infrastructure, Programs, and Policies to Increase Bicycling

A multifaceted, coordinated approach offers the promise of substantial growth in bicycling, even in cities with low bicycling levels. Individual interventions to promote bicycling are effective, but far less so than if implemented as part of a comprehensive effort.

Many government agencies and public health organizations have explicitly advocated more bicycling as a way to improve individual health, as well as reduce air pollution, carbon emissions, congestion, noise, traffic dangers, and other harmful impacts of car use. This research review explores the question of how to increase bicycling. The authors conducted a comprehensive search of peer-reviewed and non-reviewed research and identified 139 studies of varied types and quality. Secondary data were gathered from 14 case study cities that adopted multiple interventions. The authors list, describe and categorize the wide range of infrastructure, program, and policy interventions to promote bicycling. The paper summarizes the available information on where and to what extent these interventions are currently being implemented, and assesses the actual impacts on levels of bicycling.

Key Findings:

  • Many studies show positive associations between specific interventions and levels of bicycling.
  • Almost all cities adopting comprehensive packages of interventions experienced large increases in the number of bicycle trips and share of people bicycling.

These findings indicate that substantial increases in bicycling require an integrated package of many different, complementary interventions, including infrastructure provision and pro-bicycle programs, as well as supportive land use planning and restrictions on car use.