Please join us for a SafeTREC seminar on Friday, Jan. 27, 9:30-10:30. Jesus Barajas, SafeTREC Postdoc, will be presenting:
The Softer Side of Cycling: The Role of Neighborhood Perceptions and Social Connections in Immigrant Travel Behavior
By 2060, 78 million immigrants will live in the United States—the largest share of the population in two centuries. Nationwide, immigrants bicycle more than people born in the US, but this gap declines over time as the newcomers adopt the familiar American habit of driving alone. Understanding what explains these patterns is critical for transportation planners who must address both environmental sustainability concerns by increasing cycling and reducing driving and social equity by serving a growing disadvantaged population.
In this talk, I present results from a study that asks what motivates immigrants to bicycle, and how those factors differ between the foreign-born and US-born residents of a large urban area. To answer these questions, I combined original survey data conducted in San Francisco Bay Area neighborhoods that have high concentrations of Latino immigrants with US Census and regional spatial databases. I find that perceptions of both cycling and residential neighborhood quality matter strongly in influencing cycling, and identifying as a cyclist also affects perceptions of cycling. Social connections have a moderate association with whether someone is a cyclist, and the effect appears to be stronger for immigrants. Finally, I find that the built environment matters little in predicting cycling once accounting for the other factors. The results suggest that investing in soft infrastructure, such as partnerships with organizations that have strong social ties in immigrant communities, can encourage cycling as much as or more than funding hard infrastructure.