Measuring National Low-Stress Bicycle Accessibility with OpenStreetMap

Heritage
Saturday, 3:15 PM – 20 min
Brendan Murphy

The growth of bicycling and bicycle network facilities in the United States warrants assessment of whether bicycle networks give populations safe access to valuable destinations—that is, a bicycle network must be sufficiently both safe and useful. The Bicycle Level of Traffic Stress (LTS) metric is adapted to assign traffic stress values to street segments and intersections based on OpenStreetMap tag data, and cumulative job opportunity accessibility calculations are performed on the reduced, low-stress bicycle networks. The top 50 metropolitan areas by population across the United States are analyzed within this context. An “access gap” metric is implemented, comparing accessibility on low-stress bicycle networks to accessibility on higher-stress networks, to measure how well each city’s bicycle network provides access to valuable destinations (such as jobs and transit facilities), and how much these networks could be improved through upgrading higher-stress bicycle facilities. Accessibility is aggregated across the Core-Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) of metropolitan areas, and compared between different LTS levels. Generally, it is found that restricting bicycle travel to only low-stress networks results in universal reductions in accessibility, to varying degrees between metropolitan areas, depending on network robustness. Intercity comparability and analysis, and mapping, of this scale require consistent, robust datasources like OpenStreetMap; we show how OSM is leveraged to generate national-scope bicycle accessibility data, to inform urban planning processes and bike network evaluations.