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Bicycle superhighway: An environmentally sustainable policy for urban transport

Agarwal, Amit; Ziemke, Dominik; Nagel, Kai

Bicycle is a sustainable low-carbon transport mode. However, insufficient or unplanned infrastructure leads to decrease in the share of bicycle in many cities of developing nations. In order to increase the bicycle share and to provide safer, faster and more direct routes, a bicycle superhighway is proposed for urban areas. This study identifies the potential of increase in the bicycle share. For maximum utilization of the new infrastructure, an algorithm is presented to identify the optimum number and locations of the connectors between proposed new infrastructure and existing network. Household income levels are incorporated into the decision making process of individual travellers for a better understanding of the modal shift. A real-world case study of Patna, India is chosen to show the application of the proposed superhighway. It is shown that for Patna, the bicycle share can escalate as high as 48% up from 32% by providing this kind of infrastructure. However, together with bicycles, allowing motorbikes on the superhighway limits the bicycle share to 44%. The increase in bicycle share is mainly a result of people switching from motorbike, public transport and walk to the bicycle. Further, to evaluate the benefits of the bicycle superhighway, this study first extends an emission modelling tool to estimate the time-dependent, vehicle-specific emissions under mixed traffic conditions. Allowing only bicyclists on the superhighway improves congested urban areas, reduces emissions, and increases accessibility. However, allowing motorbikes on the superhighway increases emissions significantly in the central part of the urban area and reduces accessibilities by bicycle mode to education facilities which are undesirable. This study elicits that a physically segregated high-quality bicycle superhighway will not only attract current non-cyclist travellers and increase the share of the bicycle mode, but will also reduce negative transport externalities significantly.
Published in: Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, 10.1016/j.tra.2019.06.015, Elsevier