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The Influence of comfort aspects on route- and mode-choice decisions of cyclists in the Netherlands

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Last Updated: 3-2016

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The increasing density of urban areas has led to mobility problems all over the world. Air pollution, noise and congestion are the results of unsustainable mobility. Governments focus their policies towards encouragement of bicycle usage to target private cars use. The Netherlands and Denmark are worldwide examples of stimulating the bicycle culture by providing comfortable and safe cycling facilities. Despite the large investments in improved bicycle infrastructure, there is still a lack of knowledge concerning the actual effectiveness of these improvements on route‐choice and the propensity to cycle. Transportation planners in practice often base bicycle traffic flows on the assumption of shortest path preference, though existing literature proves that specific comfort aspects should also be taken into account. The traffic models which are used by transportation planners as a decision support tool, require another assignment method and better theoretical grounding. In this research the influence of comfort aspects on route‐ and mode‐choice decisions of cyclists and how these do relate to the influence of travel time savings is investigated. A stated preference experiment was completed by 728 respondents in the Netherlands. The availability of bicycle facilities, the pavement quality and the presence of slopes on a cycling route seem to be of more influence than 4 minutes of travel time savings on the route‐choice. Regarding mode‐choice decisions, the experiment turned out that providing secured bicycle parking facilities and a higher route‐ comfort are of more influence on the propensity to cycle than providing a shorter route. Besides the utility values for these aspects, also an elaborate definition for bicycle route‐comfort is found in this research. The results have finally been compared to conventional traffic model calculations. The comparison showed that taking into consideration specific route aspects leads to more accurate bicycle traffic assignment. This research may therefore be seen as a contribution to the theoretical grounding and improvements of bicycle traffic models.

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