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As urban areas across the country are investing in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure to promote environmentally sustainable transportation and to develop livable communities, many have pointed to improvements in environmental quality, economic development and public health as potential positive outcomes. While these outcomes of active transportation infrastructure are relatively well documented, it is also known that both transportation and environmental amenities are typically unevenly distributed in the urban context. Studies show that those who are the most socioeconomically disadvantaged (i.e. low income, people of color, etc.) are also those who disproportionately experience transportation disadvantages.

This study contributes to the existing literature by specifically linking bicycle accessibility to spatial equity analysis, using both an existing 2016 Baseline Scenario and a 2035 City Greenways Scenario in Portland, Oregon to illustrate. Two distinct types of bicycle accessibility measures are calculated: a distance-based measure (based on proximity to bicycle facilities) and a gravity-based opportunities measure (based on accessible opportunities and destinations). Improvements in bicycle accessibility are then spatially analyzed within communities identified as historically marginalized, across quintiles of identified neighborhoods and between identified communities and other areas.

Our findings suggest that although bicycle infrastructure investments generally provide greater proximity for all residents, accessibility improvements are not quite as apparent when considering access to opportunities and destinations using the second bicycle accessibility measure. The results of the various spatial equity analyses underscore the importance of integrating land use factors into transportation accessibility measures, particularly in the context of equitable access to opportunities for everyone.

Biographical Information

Dr. Jenny Liu is an assisant professor of urban studies and planning at Portland State University. She is an environmental and resource economist with a focus in transportation economics. Her research interests include the economics of alternative energy sources, links between transportation choices and environmental issues, the effects of physical infrastructure networks and social networks on the adoption of transportation technologies, and technology adoption and its effects on climate change, particularly within the urban and development contexts.


Bicycle commuting, Cycling -- Oregon -- Portland, Local transit -- Oregon -- Portland -- Planning


Transportation | Urban Studies | Urban Studies and Planning

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Exploring Bicycle Accessibility and Equity in Portland, Oregon



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