When bike lanes are not enough: An exploration of the level of traffic stress framework in Aotearoa New Zealand

The Level of Traffic Stress (LTS) Framework is a recently developed bicycle infrastructure classification scheme that is growing in popularity in the field of transportation planning due to its relatively simple data requirements, its intuitive description of cycling networks, and its potential to increase the uptake of cycling through application in policy and planning. However, there are a dearth of studies that aim to empirically validate the LTS Framework and its use. This thesis aims to empirically validate the LTS Framework in the context of Aotearoa New Zealand, asking: To what extent does the provision of low stress cycling infrastructure relate to cycling uptake in major cities in Aotearoa New Zealand? The Level of Traffic Stress framework is applied to seven cities across Aotearoa New Zealand that vary in population, topography, and commitment to cycling as an everyday traffic mode which results in roads being designated as either low stress or high stress. Measures of the networks formed when only considering low stress roads are tested against levels of cycling commuting across different neighbourhoods. It is found that for six of the seven studied cities, the majority of the roads are low stress, and in all seven cities, the low stress roads are poorly connected. However, there is a link between greater provision of low stress cycling infrastructure and the number of people cycling to work. The percentage of low stress infrastructure at both the city and the neighbourhood level is the only significant variable for increasing bicycle commuting levels. Further, this variable is expressed stronger at the city level than the neighbourhood level, indicating that new low stress infrastructure is likely to increase cycling uptake regardless of where it is located. Policy makers and planners can have confidence that the provision of low stress infrastructure is correlated to increased cycling uptake in Aotearoa New Zealand and beyond.
Type of thesis
The University of Waikato
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