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Research Recap, January 30: Saving Transit Time, Bicycling Benefits, Maximizing Bikeshare Ridership

Mobile real-time transit information leads to decreases in bus stop wait time by almost 20 percent. Photo by Oran Viriyincy.

Welcome to “Research Recap,” our series highlighting recent reports, studies and other findings in sustainable transportation policy and practice, in case you missed it.

Informed Transit Time Savings

A new study on the impact of mobile real-time transit information on bus rider wait times found that mobile information leads to decreases in both the perceived and actual time spent waiting at bus stops. The study was released last week at the Transportation Research Board (TRB) annual meeting in Washington, D.C. It investigated Seattle-area bus rider behavior by coupling at-station observations with rider questionnaires. The study found that using real-time transit information decreases wait time by almost 20 percent, and decreases the amount of time riders perceive to be waiting by roughly 30 percent. Seattle’s real-time bus information system is called OneBusAway, and provides arrival information via the web, telephone, text-messaging, and smart-phone applications.

Assessing Bicycling Benefits

The economic and health benefits of bicycling in the state of Iowa were explored in a recent study by the University of Northern Iowa Sustainable Tourism and Environment Program (STEP) for the Iowa Bicycle Coalition. The study is based on data obtained using three questionnaires that were distributed to cyclists, bicycle-specific retail businesses and cycling organizations in Iowa during the fall of 2011. Also used was data from the U.S. Census, the Iowa DOT, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Iowa Department of Public Health. The study found that bicycle commuters save Iowa $13,266,020 annually in health care costs, and generate, both directly and indirectly, $51,965,317 in consumer spending. As for recreational cycling, roughly $73,942,511 is saved in health care costs, and $364,864,202 is generated in spending. Iowa was ranked the sixth most bicycle-friendly state in the United States by the League of American Bicyclists in 2011.

Maximizing Bikeshare Systems

Bikeshare ridership increases with the presence of bike lanes, a new study analyzing the determinants of bikeshare usage finds. The study analyzed the Capital Bikeshare system in Washington, D.C., using GIS analysis to link each bikeshare station with its bike lane supply. A statistically significant relationship was displayed between the number of bikeshare trips and bike lane presence, with an additional 0.85 bikeshare riders per day for every kilometer of bike lane within a half-mile area around a Capital Bikeshare station. Controlled variables in the study included population, retail destinations in the bike stations vicinity, and the percentage of households without a car.

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