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Bicycle Paths and Cyclists Perceived Levels of Crowding Safety and Comfort




Recently it becomes increasingly more crowded on the cycle path, especially in high urban areas. About 10% of the cyclists have problems with this crowdedness. The increase in the intensity of cyclists is due to a number of measures, such as the construction of many fast cycling routes, discouraging measures to reduce the use of the car in the city, and the availability of “OV-bicycle”. Furthermore, new groups of people discover the bike, such as elderly people, people who traveled by bus or tram, and people with a non-western background. There are clearly people who sometimes find it too busy on the bike path and therefore decide to take a different mode of transport. It also appears that the intensity level has an influence on the safety and comfort experience of users. It is important to avoid that it becomes too crowded on a bicycle path and more people are going to trade in the bike for other means of transport such as the bus, or car.
Whether a bicycle path is crowded, is now determined on the basis of a few guidelines concerning the width of the bicycle path and bike intensity. If the bicycle path is too narrow for the measured intensity, the bicycle path is considered to be too crowded. However, it is questionable whether users also find it crowded on that bike path. According to the crowding definition, it is inappropriate to determine the crowded level this way. Crowding is seen as a negative evaluation of the density or number of encounters. This assessment is done with an opinion that the observed number is too high for the area that is occupied. Because crowding is a value judgment, it is often used like the term ‘Perceived crowding’. In terms of determining the perceived level of crowding, one needs to know more about the setting, the desired activity, and the individuals making the evaluation.
Measuring the perceived crowding, safety and comfort are seen as a cognitively complex task, which is hard to understand for the respondent. This can be the case when a large number of attributes is included in the research, which should be obtained by the respondent. The use of visuals can help in presenting a wide range of variables and can lower the cognitive complexity for the respondents. Several pieces of literature show that the best way to measure the perceived crowding, safety, and comfort is in a visual way. The chosen attributes based on literature are: intensity level of cyclists, level of duo cyclists in the same direction, level of duo cyclists in the other direction, land use, pedestrian level of activity, vegetation next to the bike path, intensity of car traffic, bike path width, and color of bike path. The stated preference experiment that was designed based on these attributes, was completed by 1,210 respondents. The respondents evaluated for each profile the perceived level of crowding, safety, and comfort. The profiles were shown as short virtual videos (15 seconds). In the videos, the perspective of a cyclist was shown on a two-way bicycle path.

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