Study shows bike infrastructure provides key opportunity for job access

Cyclists make up just 0.3% of all Ohio commuters, yet a new report shows that cities with infrastructure for bikes have an easier time accessing jobs.

Completed by Accessibility Observatory at the University of Minnesota, the study shows just how meaningful cities’ investments in infrastructure can be. The report analyzed the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S., and ranked them based on how traffic stress and cycling comfort affect access to employment. 

“Though biking is used for less than one percent of commuting trips in the United States, biking infrastructure investments are much more cost-effective at providing access to jobs than infrastructure investments to support automobiles,” said Andrew Owen, director of the Accessibility Observatory at the University of Minnesota.

The analysis includes three Ohio cites and the metropolitan areas surrounding them – Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati. The report breaks looks at the number of jobs that are reachable between 10 and 60 minutes and classifies them to two groups based on the level of traffic stress (LTS) – a rating given to a road segment or crossing indicating the traffic stress it imposes on bicyclists. Features of a low stress network for bicyclists include facilities that offer some degree of separation from motor vehicle traffic, including separate or protected bike lanes.

All of the Ohio cities ranked in the middle of the pack, with Cleveland the highest rated among low stress streets (19th) , and Columbus highest among medium stress streets (14th). States in the Western U.S. had the highest rate of biking to work, while those in the Southern U.S. rates the lowest.

The report encourages policymakers to use the finding as they develop new transportation priorities. The Ohio Department of Transportation is formulating the state’s first ever plan to focus on walking and biking policies and programs around the state. Titled Walk.Bike.Ohio, the plan will guide the state’s bike and pedestrian transportation policies and investments in infrastructure and programs. Research like this shows the importance of investing in bike infrastructure not just as a means of recreation, but also job access and economic development.