First Advisor

Miguel Figliozzi

Date of Publication

Summer 9-18-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Civil & Environmental Engineering


Civil and Environmental Engineering




Bicycle trails -- Oregon -- Portland -- Design and construction, Traffic flow -- Oregon -- Portland -- Mathematical models -- Evaluation, Traffic congestion -- Oregon -- Portland -- Mathematical models -- Evaluation, Cycling -- Oregon -- Portland



Physical Description

1 online resource (x, 143 pages)


Bicycle use is increasing in many parts of the U.S. Local and regional governments have set ambitious bicycle mode share goals as part of their strategy to curb greenhouse gas emissions and relieve traffic congestion. In particular, Portland, Oregon has set a 25% mode share goal for 2030 (PBOT 2010). Currently bicycle mode share in Portland is 6.1% of all trips. Other cities and regional planning organizations are also setting ambitious bicycle mode share goals and increasing bicycle facilities and programs to encourage bicycling. Increases in bicycle mode share are being encouraged to increase. However, cities with higher-than-average bicycle mode share are beginning to experience locations with bicycle traffic congestion, especially during peak commute hours. Today, there are no established methods are used to describe or measure bicycle traffic flows.

In the 1960s, the Highway Capacity Manual (HCM) introduced Level of Service (LOS) measurements to describe traffic flow and capacity of motor vehicles on highways using an A-to-F grading system; "A" describes free flow traffic with no maneuvering constraints for the driver and an "F" grade corresponds to over capacity situations in which traffic flow breaks down or becomes "jammed". LOS metrics were expanded to highway and road facilities, operations and design. In the 1990s, the HCM introduced LOS measurements for transit, pedestrians, and bicycles. Today, there are many well established and emerging bicycle level of service (BLOS) methods that measure the stress, comfort and perception of safety of bicycle facilities. However, it was been assumed that bicycle traffic volumes are low and do not warrant the use of a LOS measure for bicycle capacity and traffic flow. There are few BLOS methods that take bicycle flow into consideration, except for in the case of separated bicycle and bicycle-pedestrian paths.

This thesis investigated the state of BLOS capacity methods that use bicycle volumes as a variable. The existing methods were applied to bicycle facility elements along a corridor that experiences high bicycle volumes in Portland, Oregon. Using data from the study corridor, BLOS was calculated and a sensitivity analysis was applied to each of the methods to determine how sensitive the models are to each of the variables used. An intercept survey was conducted to compare the BLOS capacity scores calculated for the corridor with the users' perception. In addition, 2030 bicycle mode share for the study corridor was estimated and the implications of increased future bicycle congestion were discussed. Gaps in the BLOS methods, limitations of the thesis study and future research were summarized.

In general, the existing methods for BLOS capacity are intended for separated paths; they are not appropriate for existing high traffic flow facilities. Most of the BLOS traffic flow methods that have been developed are most sensitive to bicycle volumes. Some of these models may be a good starting point to improve BLOS capacity and traffic flow measures for high bicycle volume locations. Without the tools to measure and evaluate the patterns of bicycle capacity and traffic flow, it will be difficult to monitor and mitigate bicycle congestion and to plan for efficient bicycle facilities in the future. This report concludes that it is now time to develop new BLOS capacity measures that address bicycle traffic flow.


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