Arlington County was recently named America’s most walkable suburb and, in general, 53 percent of adults would like to ride a bike more.
But what holds people back from actually taking a walk or using two wheels?
With the Virginia county forecasting a population growth of nearly 40 percent by 2045, biking and walking trends on the rise is a great thing. However, there are still those with hesitation.
To uncover existing perceptions and explore personal barriers about adding walking and biking into daily routines, Mobility Lab partnered with WalkArlington and BikeArlington (where I work) to conduct a series of focus groups and release a report on the findings (PDF).
Two key barriers resonated for most participants
- Disregard for traffic laws by walkers, bicyclists, and drivers
“I frequently have to wait awhile for cars to let me cross at crosswalks,” a female participant noted. “I also know specific intersections where cars tend to run the red lights or not look boths ways when they’re rolling to a stop.”
Between a driver’s rolling stops and pedestrian-crossing neglect to red-light running and rush-hour impatience, considering an active-transportation trip by walking or biking had our focus group participants a bit hesitant. On another note, participants also addressed concerns with pedestrians crossing mid-block and bicyclists not coming to a complete stop at stop signs.
- Lack of access to a comfortable, straightforward route
“If there were consistent bike paths on roads that are sectioned off separately from car lanes,” a female participant expressed, “I would be much more likely to ride a bike consistently.”
Focus group participants agreed current conditions for walking and biking vary throughout Arlington County—with certain neighborhoods being walk- and bike-friendly and others largely unconnected from each other. Columbia Pike, Walter Reed, and I-395 were mentioned by participants as significant barriers.
Other stressors included:
- Concerns of a sidewalk or bike lane’s condition (such as potholes, faded road markings, and uneven or narrow sidewalks).
- Uncomfortable sharing the road with cars.
Top 8 Personal Barriers
Photo by M.V. Jantzen/Flickr.