All Greater New Orleans Pedestrian and Bicycle Program reports can be found at: www.norpc.

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The preparation of this report has been financed in part by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development Highway Safety Department July

Bike Easy Audit Tool (BAT): A Bicycle Encouragement Evaluation

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Contents
1. Bike Easy Audit Tool (BAT): Rationale ....................................................................................................... 2 2. Measuring Encouragement ....................................................................................................................... 2 3. How BAT Works ........................................................................................................................................ 3 4. BAT Variable Rationale.............................................................................................................................. 4 5. BAT Variable Definitions ........................................................................................................................... 5 6. How is BAT different from BikeScore? ...................................................................................................... 6 7. Limitations and Future Research .............................................................................................................. 6 Works Cited ................................................................................................................................................... 8 Low-Stress Cycling Audit Instrument ............................................................................................................ 9

Regional Planning Commission for Orleans, Jefferson, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, and St. Tammany Parishes

Bike Easy Audit Tool (BAT): A Bicycle Encouragement Evaluation

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1. Bike Easy Audit Tool (BAT): Rationale
One of the key barriers to increasing cycling is the lack of safe, convenient, and inviting bicycle facilities for the majority of Americans that are interested, but concerned about adopting bicycling (Geller 2009, Mekuria et al 2012, Dill and McNeil 2013). One of the most effective ways to encourage the broader adoption of bicycling with this largely untapped demographic is the creation of connected bicycling facilities that offer low-stress, dedicated spaces for cyclists buffered from auto traffic. This approach has gained considerable national attention and has been recognized in the innovative designs put forth by the National Association of City Transportation Officials (2011). While these new protected bicycle designs have gained national momentum, transportation planners, policymakers, and the general public lack tools to survey the presence of these innovative bicycling conditions in their local communities. While detailed, professional-driven approaches to surveying bicycling conditions have been put forward by FHWA (Nabors et al 2012), this approach can be expensive and limited to transportation experts. Collecting high-quality, data from the public through a high-quality bicycle audit tool administered through local non-profits like Bike Easy, a bicycling advocacy organization based in New Orleans, can be an effective means of bridging this gap and building momentum for change (Schlossberg et al 2012). The Bike Easy Audit Tool (BAT), so-named in recognition of that organization’s efforts, as well as to highlight the fact that this survey instrument is intended to be easy to use in documenting the relative ease of cycling on the streets of the “Big Easy,” was developed as part of a larger effort involving the Regional Planning Commission (RPC), the University of New Orleans (UNO), and local advocates to improve safety for bicyclists and pedestrians in the New Orleans Region. Development of a simple yet quantitative instrument for evaluating the safety and comfort of the built environment for bicyclists was identified as a research need in previous Pedestrian Bicycle Resource Initiative (PBRI) research efforts in order to conduct comprehensive evaluations of crashes involving bicyclists and better understand the relationships between crash data, bicyclist user volumes and behavior, and facility presence and quality (see: New Orleans Multi-Tool Pedestrian Safety Study [PBRI 2013]). This tool serves as the first phase in the development a comprehensive set of instruments that can be utilized to evaluate overall bicycling comfort and safety in a given neighborhood, corridor, or node. It is intended to serve as a complement to the pedestrian built environment survey instruments previously developed by RPC and UNO in Auditing Neighborhoods, Streets, and Intersections for Pedestrian Safety: A Toolkit for Communities (Renne, Fields, and Maret 2009). Continued research is needed in order to expand the BAT to be able to effectively audit all types of streets with and without bicycle facilities (including bicycle boulevards) as well as intersection conditions.

2. Measuring Encouragement
While research on the specific dimensions of low-stress cycling street characteristics is still emerging (Mekuria et al 2012), current research on desired bicycle facilities in both Portland (Dill and McNeil 2013) and Vancouver (Winters and Teschke 2010) shows that low-volume, low-stress streets with dedicated facilities are generally most encouraging to cycling. The Bike Easy Audit Tool (BAT) takes these finding and transforms them into a user-friendly data collection tool for community members that can be readily transformed into actionable information in discussions with transportation professionals and policymakers. Regional Planning Commission for Orleans, Jefferson, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, and St. Tammany Parishes

Bike Easy Audit Tool (BAT): A Bicycle Encouragement Evaluation

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At the core of the BAT approach is a straightforward premise based on this current research: lowvolume, low-speed streets that have dedicated bicycle facilities that are continuous and unobstructed are more inviting to a wide demographic than streets lacking these characteristics. The BAT focuses on six key characteristics of low-stress bicycling conditions: • • • • • • Presence of bicycle facilities Presence of a dedicated, separated space for cyclists Continuousness of facilities Presence of obstructions/debris Posted speed of the roadway Intensity of traffic.

While there are many factors associated with bicycling comfort that can be collected in a comprehensive analysis of corridor safety (Nabors et al 2012), these six characteristics capture the key dimensions of bikeability, and simultaneously can be reasonably collected through citizen, crowd-sourced data collection. The approach’s focus on data collection by citizens differentiates it from more technical lowstress cycling analysis by Mekuria et al (2012). The use of readily available data provides an opportunity for citizen data collection to audit multiple linear bicycle corridors to track both micro-level conditions (Schlossberg et al 2012) and the presence or absence of innovative treatments across an entire area. BAT is designed to both capture these conditions individually for mapping purposes and simultaneously produce a comprehensive bikeability encouragement score for roadway segments. These segment scores can be put together in GIS to produce a bikeability encouragement map that can be scaled up from a corridor all the way to city scale. In this way, BAT provides for a type of gap analysis between best practice designs advocated for at the national level and what is currently on the ground locally. This provides a key opportunity for citizens to engage in a constructive discussion with transportation planners and policymakers about how to improve bicycling conditions based on solid data.

3. How BAT Works
The BAT approach uses a positive scoring mechanism based on the presence of high quality bicycle facilities and then a set of deductions based on factors that increase bicycling stress. BAT is based on a 10 point scale from +5 (highly bikeable) to -5 (very unbikeable). A survey is conducted on individual blocks to assess conditions. Blocks with bike facilities score “5” before possible deductions and those without score “0”. Deductions are then subtracted from the score due to lack of a dedicated, separated facility, lack of continuity of the facility, presence of obstructions/debris, high traffic speeds, and high traffic volume. This system provides an intuitive system that is both quantifiable by average participants and useful for data aggregation and analysis by professional transportation planners and advocates. In addition, the tool is designed to capture qualitative information about bicycling conditions in the community. Schlossberg et al (2012) argues that the initial, intuitive response of citizens provides one of the best readings of cycling comfort. The tool provides a question on the perceived safety of the location and then an open-ended question to explain that reaction.

Regional Planning Commission for Orleans, Jefferson, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, and St. Tammany Parishes

Bike Easy Audit Tool (BAT): A Bicycle Encouragement Evaluation

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BAT also asks for a self-categorization of the surveyor to help classify the bicyclist type. This helps to distinguish a “fit and fearless” bicyclist rating from that of a low-stress bicyclist. A diversity of surveyors could help to provide a deeper understanding of user perceptions of differing locations.

4. BAT Variable Rationale
BAT is composed of 6 variables that are based on the best current research. The scientific grounding for variable thresholds is briefly discussed below. • Bike Facility: The presence of a bicycle facility is a significant factor in cycling comfort for the “mainstream adult population” (Mekuria et al 2012, p. 3). Both Dill and McNeil (2013) and Winters and Teschke (2010) have also found that the presence of facilities significantly adds to bicycling comfort. Dedicated, Separated Space for Bicyclists: Not all facilities are, however, equal. Based on the above quoted research, the presence of a dedicated, separated facility helps to decrease stress for the target audience of potential cyclists. For instance, Dill and McNeil (2013) found that higher volume streets with separated cycle tracks approached the same level of comfort for the interested, but cautious market segment as that of low-volume residential streets. Continuous Facility: Facilities that end prior to end of a block and force cyclists to integrate with autos at intersections are not perceived as low-stress facilities. Mekuria et al (2013) identify this as the “lack of a low-stress approach” (p. 2) to an intersection. Even small gaps that increase stress may be enough to dissuade this mainstream population from utilizing the facility. Obstructions: Obstructions or debris in the facility may also increase stress. Mekuria et al (2012) point to frequent obstructions as a dividing line between low-stress and higher stress streets (p. 18). This may also include road surface conditions (e.g. ruts, potholes, and gravel) that inhibit safe, low-stress use of the roadway for bicyclists. Road Speed: Higher road speed is another factor that can increase stress levels. Mekuria et al (2012) use 30 mph as a cut off point for low stress streets (p. 18). This generally matches the speed categorization identified by Dill and McNeil (2013) in their survey of the interested, but concerned demographic. Road Intensity: A higher volume of vehicles on a street can also decrease comfort. Mekuria et al (2012) use number of lanes “as a surrogate for traffic volume” (p. 19) because volume data was not available in their study site of San Jose. New Orleans has a reasonable database of traffic volumes available through the Regional Planning Commission (RPC). No specific volume figure is cited in the existing research. The 20,000 ADT figure is used in BAT as a cut off between potentially low and high stress streets. This figure was chosen because 20,000 marks the cut off point for more easily accomplished 4 to 3 road diets (LaPlante and McCann 2008) and provides a reasonable dividing line between higher and lower volume streets.

Regional Planning Commission for Orleans, Jefferson, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, and St. Tammany Parishes

Bike Easy Audit Tool (BAT): A Bicycle Encouragement Evaluation

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5. BAT Variable Definitions
Training for capturing these variables is very minimal and simply involves understanding the definitions below. • Bike Facility: This is any clearly marked space for the use of bicyclists. Signs and/or street markings should be present. Dedicated, Separated Space for Bicyclists: A dedicated, separated space is defined as a space separated from traffic for bicyclists by hashed or continuous road marking and/or a bicycle facility with a physical separation from traffic. Common examples include buffered bike lanes and cycle tracks. Bicycle boulevards, bike lanes, green lanes, and sharrows are not included. Buffered bike lanes are typical bike lanes with the addition of “a designated buffer space separating the bicycle lane from the adjacent motor vehicle travel lane and/or parking lane” (NACTO 2011, p. 18). Cycle tracks are a relatively new U.S. bike facility that is a type of hybrid between a trail and bike lane. NACTO (2011) points out that “they provide space that is intended to be exclusively or primarily used for bicycles, and are separated from motor vehicle travel lanes, parking lanes, and sidewalks (p. 58). Continuous Facility: A continuous bicycle facility has a clearly marked space for bicyclists that extends for the entire distance of the block from intersection to intersection. If there is a merge zone for cars, the facility should have dashed lines. There should be no areas where the cyclist must share space with drivers without a clear facility indication (as is the case with sharrows and bicycle boulevards). Obstructions/Debris: These are defined as obstacles to continuous use of the facility such as potholes, parked cars, glass, or other significant impediments that could force a cyclist out of the facility, including poor pavement condition. Road Speed: This is defined by the posted road speed. Some minor, residential roads may not have posted speeds. Refer to local ordinances for these road speeds. Road Intensity: This is defined by the number of cars utilizing a road in a day (Average Daily Traffic or ADT). The Regional Planning Commission (RPC) provides access to traffic counts for major roads at http://www.norpc.org/traffic_counts.html. If the road segment is not included on the RPC map, assume that the segment is below the 20,000 vehicles per day threshold. This is the only field that requires non-field observation. If access to the RPC site is not available, mark based on surveyor’s perceptions and noted on the form.

Regional Planning Commission for Orleans, Jefferson, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, and St. Tammany Parishes

Bike Easy Audit Tool (BAT): A Bicycle Encouragement Evaluation

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6. How is BAT different from BikeScore?
BikeScore (Winters 2013), the most widely distributed bikeability tool, focuses on mapping bikeability characteristics like connectivity, bike route and destination density, topography, and bike route separation across neighborhoods or regions. While BikeScore does a good job of broadly mapping bikeability, its focus is on preexisting, fairly coarse data useful for mapping across regions. BAT aims to provide a complementary tool that provides a more nuanced, micro-level portrait of existing conditions. Citizens can use BAT to collect specific data to help them understand why their BikeScore might be low and then transform that data into a platform for discussion with city officials. This emphasis on micro-level data and citizen input differentiates the two tools.

7. Limitations and Future Research
Several key limitations should be noted. The tool at present has been tested in limited form through several pilot uses in New Orleans and Austin. Further refining of the tool is both expected and needed to insure validity of the instrument. In addition, the scoring system is linked to emerging survey research on bikeability characteristics. The state of the science is not advanced enough at this point to provide a definitive scoring breakdown that directly links positive and negative characteristics to a specific weight in the scoring matrix. The current system provides a broad tool to capture characteristics associated with bikeability for a general audience. In the current iteration of the tool, for example, the lack of a dedicated, separated bicycle facility results in a one point deduction in the overall score. Based on existing research, the premise is that clearly defined, separated spaces for cyclists will increase comfort. The operationalization of this presents some complications, however. The current definition of a dedicated facility is classified as buffered bike lanes and cycle tracks. Bicycle boulevards, bike lanes, green lanes, and sharrows are not included because they are not the type of facilities favored by the majority of concerned cyclists. The facilities, thus, receive a point deducted from the overall “perfect” score. These facility types can, however, clearly be useful in increasing comfort of cyclists. Bicycle boulevards, for instance, can be some of the most heavily used bicycle facilities for low-stress cycling on lower volume streets. In previous research, women cyclists have altered from the shortest path to utilize these types of facilities (Dill and Gliebe 2008). The rationale for the point deduction is that separated facilities are generally the most desired facilities for encouraging cycling among the interested, but concerned population segment (Dill and McNeil 2013). Streets with non-separated facilities can still score highly on this tool (up to +4), but the highest rating (+5) is reserved for separated facilities. While the current approach provides a useful starting point for auditing low-stress bicycling streets, future research is needed to specify weighting of the scoring system to help refine the system. Another key limitation to consider is that BAT does not currently survey intersection conditions. At present, BAT can help to identify where low-stress networks of streets intersect with high-stress streets that may act as barriers to bicycling network. This focus on “seams” in the cycling network is more fully

Regional Planning Commission for Orleans, Jefferson, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, and St. Tammany Parishes

Bike Easy Audit Tool (BAT): A Bicycle Encouragement Evaluation

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addressed by Mekuria et al (2012), but more research is needed to create a citizen audit instrument that simply captures key intersection characteristics. Finally, the tool focuses on on-street conditions. It is not designed to quantify adjacent trails that can be an important component of a low-stress cycling system. Cycle tracks are, however, included in the tool. Despite these limitations, the tool provides a broad, accessible system to capture current bikeability encouragement conditions in neighborhoods across the country. In addition, each variable collected can be disaggregated from the scoring component for mapping purposes and to show change in specific conditions over time. This flexibility allows users to create customizable maps for specific purposes. It is hoped that this accessible, flexible system will spur transportation planners, policy makers, and citizens to engage in evaluating the current conditions in their neighborhoods and work towards building more low-stress, bikeable streets.

Regional Planning Commission for Orleans, Jefferson, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, and St. Tammany Parishes

Bike Easy Audit Tool (BAT): A Bicycle Encouragement Evaluation

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Works Cited
Dill, J., and Gliebe, J. P. 2008. Understanding and measuring bicycling behavior: A focus on travel time and route choice (No. OTREC-RR-08-03). Dill, J., and McNeil, N. 2013. Four Types of Cyclists? Examining A Typology to Better Understand Biycling Behavior and Potential. Transportation, 17, 18. Geller, Roger. 2009. “Four Types of Cyclists,” City of Portland, Office of Transportation. http://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/44597?a=237507 LaPlante, J., and McCann, B. 2008. Complete streets: we can get there from here. ITE JOURNAL, 78(5), 24. Mekuria, M. C., Furth, P. G., and Nixon, H. 2012. “Low-Stress Bicycling and Network Connectivity.” Mineta Transportation Institute, College of Business, San José State University. Nabors, D., Goughnour, E., Thomas, L., DeSantis, W., Sawyer, M., and Moriarty, K. 2012. Bicycle Road Safety Audit Guidelines and Prompt Lists (No. FHWA‐SA‐12‐018). National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO). 2011. “Urban Bikeway Design Guide.” http://nacto.org/cities-for-cycling/design-guide/ Pedestrian Bicycle Resource Initiative. 2013. New Orleans Multi-Tool Pedestrian Safety Study. New Orleans Regional Planning Commission. www.pbrila.org/research Renne, J., Fields, B., and Maret, I. 2009. Auditing Neighborhoods, Streets, and Intersections for Pedestrian Safety: A Toolkit for Communities. http://transportation.uno.edu/phirecontent/assets/files/PBRI-Auditing-Neighborhoods-Streets-and-Intersections-for-Pedestrian-Safety.pdf Schlossberg, M., Evers, C., Kato, K., and Brehm, C. 2012. Active transportation, citizen Engagement and livability: coupling citizens and Smartphones to Make the change. URISA Journal, 25(2). Winters, M. 2013. “Bike Score: Does Urban Bikeability Predict Cycling Behavior?” Presentation at the Active Living Research Conference. San Diego, CA Feb. 27, 2013. Winters, M., and Teschke, K. 2010. Route preferences among adults in the near market for bicycling: findings of the Cycling in Cities study. American Journal of Health Promotion, 25(1), 40-47.

Regional Planning Commission for Orleans, Jefferson, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, and St. Tammany Parishes

Bike Easy Audit Tool (BAT): A Bicycle Encouragement Evaluation

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Low-Stress Cycling Audit Instrument Location: ___________________________________________________________________________________________________
Overall Feel of Place Describe: Do or would you feel safe riding your bicycle here? Circle: Yes/No

Question 1 2 3 4 5 6

Bike Facility Availability Is there a bike facility? Bike Facility Quality Is there a dedicated, separated space for bicyclists on the roadway? Is there a continuous facility for the entire block (excluding intersection)? Are there obstructions/debris or road surface hazards on the facility? Speed Road Intensity Total Score

Score If yes, add 5. If no, score 0 Score If no, subtract 1 If no, subtract 1 If yes, subtract 1 If posted speed is above 30 mph, subtract 1 If this is a major street, subtract 1. (Note: If ADT data is available, major street is above 20,000. If data is unavailable, this is your own opinion) Add all rows together for final score

Bicycle Facility Type (circle) bike lane buffered bike lane contra flow bike lane green lane cycletrack bicycle boulevard Unsure? Take a picture and visit NACTO for identification: http://nacto.org/cities-for-cycling/design-guide/ A Little Bit About You Please circle the I feel comfortable riding my I feel comfortable riding I feel comfortable riding statement that best bike on any street in any on a designated bicycle only on quiet streets or describes you condition facility on trails/paths sharrow other none

I do not feel comfortable or interested in bicycle riding

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