Airports and Bicycles: what are the obstacles and incentives for operators to improve bicycle access?


In this paper we use a case study approach to examine how airport operators are addressing bicycle access to their properties and the motivations and obstacles they face, in light of new policies to integrate bicycles, along with transit and walking, into transportation planning, design and construction, and to increase bicycles’ role in the transportation system. Eight influential elements emerged from our review of policy documents and research literature. We used them to guide interviews with key informants. The eight elements are: governance structure, location, access roads, self-perceived environmental stewardship, spending restrictions on non-aviation transportation improvements, proximity to transit, policies and mandates to reduce environmental impacts and land use constraints. We report on seven cases, selected on the basis of inclusion in studies on key aspects of airport ground access and, for one, identification as exemplary. They are: Oakland International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Boston Logan International Airport Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, and Portland, an exemplar recommended by several key informants.  We limit our discussion to employee bicycle access because that has been the focus of airport operators that have made these investments and programs to reduce single-occupancy vehicle travel at airports. In aggregating the interviews, we identified replicable approaches to improving bicycle access. We also identified examples of innovative funding for multi-modal access using revenues generated by airport Passenger Facilities Charges. Finally, we identified areas for additional research: airport employee commute needs, ground access mode choice and operator costs and benefits of bicycle access investments.

Publication date: 
September 1, 2013
Publication type: 
Technical Report