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Bicycling is known to produce benefits for cities, in regards to reducing levels of congestion, generating positive health outcomes, and providing affordable transportation options to low-income families. Conventional analysis of urban bicycle commuting does not currently consider the importance of separating migrant, or “newcomer,” bicycle commute use from pre-existing resident bicycle commute use. The goal of this paper is to provide additional information on individual, social, and environmental factors that influence newcomer bicycle use for commuting purposes. This cross-sectional study used data from the 2007-2011 American Community Survey (5-year Estimates) to analyze the bicycle commute use of newcomers in the 70 largest U.S. cities. Relationships between newcomer bicycle commute use and socio-demographic, physical environment, and social environment factors were explored. Newcomer bicycle commute use has a strong positive association with pre-existing city-wide levels of bicycle commute use and a weak positive association with city-wide levels of bicycle infrastructure. After controlling for the built environment, cities with very high levels of pre-existing bicycle use are associated with a 690% higher likelihood of a newcomer’s bicycle commute use when compared to cities with low levels of pre-existing bicycle use. The results suggest that a newcomer’s bicycle use is related to demographics characteristics and pre-existing bicycle use, and that bicycle infrastructure has a relatively negligible influence. The findings may be useful for city planners and policymakers attempting to attract bicycle users to their cities.

Biographical Information

Ryan J. Dann is a Ph.D. student in the Urban Studies department at Portland State University. His research interests involve the travel behavior of urban newcomers, as well as the relationship between bicycle use and neighborhood change. He is currently working on a research project that focuses on location affordable housing and low-income households in the Portland Metro area.


Choice of transportation -- Research -- United States, Urban transportation -- United States -- Evaluation, Bicycle commuting, Cycling, Transportation -- United States -- Planning


Transportation | Urban Studies and Planning

Persistent Identifier

Factors Associated with the Bicycle Commute Use of Newcomers: Analysis of the 70 Largest U.S. Cities



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