Transportation agencies often face challenges in identifying non-motorized transportation infrastructure needs and barriers that discourage non-motorized mode choice. There is often latent demand for using bicycling and walking as transportation modes: many people would like to walk or bicycle but do not feel safe or comfortable doing so when infrastructure is unavailable or poorly designed. Clearly identifying and prioritizing these barriers is challenging because existing travel using these modes is usually comparatively small, and walk, bike, and loop trips are traditionally more difficult to capture in household travel diaries. Planning agencies have used a variety of additional surveys and other methods to attempt to understand biking and walking needs, such as with extra questions in household travel surveys that identify existing biking and walking demand and barriers or with small scale audits such as those conducted through Safe Routes to Schools.
The 2012 Utah Bicycle and Pedestrian Survey aims to identify and locate physical barriers more comprehensively and to provide survey results in a manner that is actionable for travel demand modelers and planners alike. The survey combined questions about existing bicycling and walking behavior with general attitudes about barriers and preferred infrastructure designs. Most notably, survey respondents could locate specific intersections, roadways, and other problem areas that discourage them from using non-motorized transportation in that location. The resulting dataset provides precise locations (latitude and longitude) and detailed descriptions of problems identified by respondents. Respondents were invited from bike clubs, community groups, and other organizations, as well as from participants who had recently completed the Utah Statewide Household Diary Survey and expressed an interest in participating in future studies. Respondents were also encouraged to forward the survey to others. This hybrid approach yielded input from residents throughout the state, both from people who frequently walk and bike, as well as from the general population.
The survey results are compiled at the state and regional levels to provide Utah’s transportation agencies with the needed information to more effectively prioritize non-motorized infrastructure investments in ways that improve the bicycle and pedestrian experience and potentially convert latent demand into active behavior.