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Bicycles, Transportation Sustainability, and Quality of Life

Principal Investigators: Richard Watts and Luis Vivanco
Funding Agency: US DOT

Project Summary

Research is sustainable transportation systems has increasingly recognized the quality of life. Although in popular discourse bicycles have gained a reputation for enhancing quality of life, little systematic research exists on the actual relationships between bicycles, transportation sustainability, and quality of life. This research aims to develop a conceptual framework for assessing the relationship between quality of life, transportation sustainability, and bicycle transportation, and to evaluate the opportunities and limitations of distinct methodological tools useful for understanding that relationship. In particular, it asks: What relevance does the quality of life concept, and its specific variations (such as "Transport Quality of Life") have for understanding the motivation, practice, perceptions, and experience of transportation cycling? What attributes of bicycle transportation enhance or detract from subjective perceptions and objective measures of quality of life, and how might those be studied? Using a mixed methods approach, this project develops a variety of objective and subjective quality of life indicators for bicycle transportation. Our interdisciplinary team, which includes researchers from Economics, Transportation Planning, Cultural Anthropology and Environmental Studies, will develop quality of life indicators specific to bicycle travel and a conceptual map linking those indicators with the motivation, practice, perceptions, and experience of transportation cycling. This work will be useful to researchers, planners and policy-makers seeking to increase mode shifts from automobile to non-motorized transportation.