Thursday, 14 April 2016

Why trip counts must include those not made to commute.

Many people when they think of modal share, they come to think "for getting to work and back". As I will explain, this is a fundamental error when assigning priority to the different kinds of trips.

I've mentioned before that a modal share of all trips, keyword, all trips, made by bicycle, of somewhere between 25 and 60% of trips is common in the Netherlands, usually between 35 and 50% as a more normal range. This is usual for trips of 7.5 km or less. This is an important distinction. 

People of course don't need to get around just for work and back. There are a lot of people you exclude by doing that. My grandparents are retired, they don't have work trips, so do you consider their travel patterns irrelevant? Of course you don't. Young children go to school and back each schoolday, but by excluding their trips from the roster, you ignore a huge number of the trips made. Most field trips, or trips that the school organizes for the students either for fun, like to a pool, or educational like a cemetery, wait, why did I use cemetery as an example, are done by yellow bus. Let's not be so morbid, and use the Bennett Centre (which I myself went to on a trip about insects) in the River Valley, near 98 Ave, The Dutch have practically no yellow buses, and the ones that are used are pretty much just rented out by businesses taking clients to various places. 

People who shop also make a large number of trips, go watch a Walmart parking lot for a few minutes. It often generates so much traffic that many accesses to parking like this can need traffic lights. They need to be counted among the other trips, as they add a huge number to the total trips. 

People who cycle for recreation has a different meaning to me than "recreational cyclists". The former indicates that a person just happens to be using a bicycle for a particular trip intended to be recreational in nature. Recreational cyclist in my opinion means someone who primarily cycles for recreation, sometimes exclusively for this purpose. Using this term also makes it more likely that people will associate them with low speed high tolerance for inconvenience but desiring high subjective safety levels type of people. People do cycle for recreation, and it should be counted, especially in the countryside where it's more likely that people tour and go for rides just for the fun of it or when cycling itself is the object, other than the primary desire to use your muscles. 

Student trips need to be counted as well. It helps to indicate that cycling is mainstream for younger people, it shows that we need to consider the higher chance that a younger person will make a mistake when riding and it shows that parent's must be comfortable letting their kid cycle around. University students also need to be counted. They need cheap transportation that fits into the urban area well and needs to be high density, and they also need something that they can use more of given a still learning brain, at least in terms of learning to driving a car.

The other big group that is often left out are those who cycle partway through their trip then switch to public transport, be it a bus or train or helicopter (I'm joking about the last one). It is vital that we understand the sheer magnitude of people who use this combination, especially in the Netherlands. The amount of cycling is expanding so rapidly that stations quickly become overcrowded with parked bicycles. Even thousands of parking spaces, maybe even over 10000, isn't enough for the number of cyclists in many cities. Another thing that this group shows is how the pattern of getting to the homes to the transfer point works. Is there a major obstacle, is a major intersection slowing cyclists down? Is there a weak link, maybe a narrow cycle path, some bad maintenance somewhere? Is a cycle path overcrowded? This can be a determining factor as to whether people will cycle longer distances by combining modes or not.

People driving cars in the Netherlands are almost always also cyclists, and often the other way around  too provided that the subject is at least 18 years old. Almost everyone who is old enough is able and willing to use each kinds of modes they want. They might use the car to get to work but they might cycle to go to the store and pick up their Grade 1 kid from the elementary (primary) school, or they might normally drive once or twice a week to visit their grandparents, walk to take their kids to school and back, cycle to get the groceries, and take the train and walk to go to work and back. It should be a collection of all the different trips regardless of what they are normally and it should include those using the different kinds of modes for the different kinds of trips they could make.

This also defeats the arguments about cyclists being licensed and or taxed. People in school are taught how to cycle and assuming they pass the traffic exam, they get a certificate that they passed, a major rite to a Dutch child. Kind of like how I saw getting my learner license. You don't have to get one to succeed in life, but it feels great to know that you are capable. And most people when they turn 18 will get a driving license and learn to drive a car, even if they intend to go car free, just so that they can drive if they really need to, or if they need to drive abroad in the US. Most of the money spent on cycling is from local budgets, which are mostly funded through property taxes, and much of the rest is business license revenue, and most of us pay in some ways, business use some of the money they get from sales towards their taxes and people owning any sort of large property pay their property taxes and many people own property that is taxed in this way. No correlation to the amount they use roads at all.

You need to think about all trips, not just those made to get to home to work and back. In fact, I've seen figures that put the number of people who make a commuting trip at only around 25-33%. There are so many more trips. We build arterial roads and highways so that everyone* can get around at any time of the day (* everyone not including those without a license, those who cannot afford fuel, those without a car with the right to legally drive it and the ability to drive one safely) for whatever purpose of trip (aside from going to a store to rob it) they desire.

Why don't we build cycleways and streets to let you be able to make any type of trip you want to make at any time of the day for anyone and everyone to cycle?


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