An Equity Analysis of Bicycle Infrastructure Around Light Rail Stations in Seattle, WA
Osmonson, Bryanna Lynn
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This thesis explores whether there is any relationship between an area’s equity variables – the proportion of a Census Block Group population that is a racial minority, below the federal poverty line, under the age of 18, and 65 and older – and the density of bicycle infrastructure in these neighborhoods, especially in the areas surrounding light rail stations. The lack of bicycle facilities is often a barrier to someone to begin using a bicycle for transportation purposes. Riding a bicycle to access high capacity transit can reduce commute times, make a commute more enjoyable, and incorporate healthy activity into one’s every day routine. The 2-mile radius around light rail stations is considered the bikeshed, or the distance within which most people are able and willing to ride a bicycle. Two sets of analysis were conducted: the first using all bicycle facilities in Seattle and the second using only “low-stress” bicycle facilities, and comparing them with equity variables. Low-stress is defined as Class 1 (off street trails), Class 2 (protected bicycle lanes), and Class 4 facilities (low-speed, low-volume streets). Class 3 (shared lane bicycle facilities) make up about half of the city’s bicycle infrastructure, but are the least safe of the four types. The results of both sets of analysis show that there are many service gaps in Southeast Seattle’s Rainier Valley, where many diverse and historically disadvantaged people live, and where the Link light rail currently operates. There are also service gaps in more homogeneous areas. Statistically, bicycle infrastructure is allocated equally across the City of Seattle. In order to pursue a future of equity for all Seattleites, we must follow a Rawlsian approach to distributive justice and first improve the communities that need the most help. There are opportunities for bicycle infrastructure network improvements around light rail stations both in areas with high concentrations of historically marginalized populations as well as those without. Resources should be focused on the communities where historically marginalized populations live in order to improve equity outcomes in the City of Seattle and King County.
- Urban planning