Cyclists’ route choice: analysing the greenness of the built and rural environment
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The Dutch government aims to promote bicycling because it causes less pollution than motorized forms of transport and it has a positive effect on the health of the bicyclist. To promote cycling, the cycling infrastructure and its surrounding environment requires attractive qualities so that people perceive cycling as the most attractive option. It is well established that the built environment influences cyclists' route choice behaviour. This study aims to determine the influence of the green environment on cyclists' route choice behaviour, both in rural and urban context. In this setting, the green environment is defined as "the components of greenery, water, bridges and aesthetic that make up the built environment". The hypothesis is that that people choose to cycle along natural components such as greenery and proximity to water, even if they have to detour from the shortest route. To test this hypothesis, volunteers were tracked with a GPS for the duration of seven days, after which they filled in a survey requesting their personal information and cycling preferences. Based upon observed paths of GPS-tracked participants, a choice set of labelled paths between origin and destination is generated. Subsequently, a conditional logit choice model is estimated in the statistical software program Stata, in order to find statistically significant effects of green environment characteristics and personal characteristics on route choice behaviour. The result of this study is that the influencing features of the green environment are a combination of water, greenery, and the environments’ aesthetic; with the finding that the influence of the green environment is different in urban areas than in rural areas. In an urban context, people choose to cycle through greenery, close to water and through appealing environments whereas in a rural environment, just water and the environments’ aesthetic influence route choice positively.