Cycling is increasing in popularity in Canada whether it is for commuting to work, going to school or just for recreational purposes (Pucher, Buehler & Seinen, 2011). It is accessible to almost everyone and can be incorporated into everyday life (Hollingworth, Harper & Hamer, 2015). However, confident cyclists are finding faster routes, not necessarily the ‘designated’ ones marked by cities, and less confident riders prefer riding on bicycle paths, lanes, and low traffic volume roads over cycling on busy streets (Buehler & Pucher, 2011). Some cyclists are willing to increase trip distance and travel time in order to ride on bike paths rather than shorter, more direct bike lanes that require cycling with road traffic (Buehler & Pucher, 2011). Cycling is significant as it improves health and offers a potentially low cost solution as well as contributing to the reduction in traffic congestion, air pollution, carbon emissions, noise, risk of injury and other impacts that cars produce (Hollingworth et al., 2015; Ogilvie et al., 2004). By concentrating alternative cycling routes throughout cities, specifically near universities, cycling levels will increase (Pucher et al., 2011).
The City of Guelph, Ontario has developed a transportation document, The Cycling Master Plan (2013) which will help lead the development of a cycling network throughout Guelph (City of Guelph, 2015). This plan introduces cycling infrastructure such as on-street bike lanes throughout Guelph, identifying areas where there should be more focus and raising awareness of places that need improved safety of cyclist destinations. This will allow confident cyclists to have a more direct route to their destination, and with alternative bike routes, lincreased confidence for less-confident cyclists. This will allow for cycling to be less stressful and challenging (City of Guelph, 2015; Gatersleben & Appleton, 2007). Creating alternative routes is important to break down some of the cycling barriers that prevent citizens from riding such as hilly topography and road safety in general (Piatkowski et al., 2014). Traffic safety is a major constraint for cyclists, so alternative routes would allow for more ease and comfort (Garrard, Rose and Lo, 2008). The Cycling Master Plan will not only accommodate all levels of riders, but also allows the City of Guelph to continue their commitment to inspire sustainable transportation through the means of reducing traffic congestion and related emissions and contributing to a positive individual and community health (City of Guelph, 2015).
The use of a geographic information system (GIS) is vital to cycling research because it allows for the analysis of spatial data. The cycling research project presented in this proposal involves topological and geometric factors that can be best analysed in GIS technology. Distance is inherently spatial and can only be efficiently analysed in a GIS software which allows the user to manipulate the data. In the case of identifying alternative cycling routes, GIS makes it feasible to weigh and assess all of the factors that might influence cycling. This research will use multiple functions of the GIS software ArcGIS [ESRI]. Examples of functions to be used in this project are: slope analysis, interpolation analysis, and network/route analysis.
Purpose of the Research
The purpose of this research is to develop and apply a GIS based model that identifies alternative cycling routes in the City of Guelph.