Conditions and challenges for increased biking as a climate change mitigation strategy. A case study of Östersund, Sweden

University essay from Mittuniversitetet/Avdelningen för ekoteknik och hållbart byggande

Abstract: Transfer to non-motorized transportation to the greatest extent possible is an important climate change mitigation strategy. Biking is a sustainable mean of transportation and increased biking is desirable on global, national, regional, local, and individual level. This study use Östersund, located in the middle of Sweden, as a case to analyse the conditions and challenges for increased biking and what role the biking infrastructure system, weather-related factors, and policies and programmes may play. A literature study on weather-related factors and policies and programmes was performed. How biking has developed over time was analysed and a distance analysis, the bike path infrastructures length and continuity, and accessibility was analysed in a geographical information system (GIS) environment. Investments on increased biking in Denmark and the Netherlands has been successful when a lot of effort has been put into development of the bike path infrastructure. The same result has been reached in Malmö, Sweden. However, the time aspect should not be underestimated since reaching high number of bikers seem to take many years, even decades. In the case of Östersund, temperature, wind and precipitation cause a decrease in biking. Number of bikers follow seasonal changes in temperature, the latter two have a temporary influence. Biking in Östersund is increasing even though there are fluctuations every other year. An interesting observation is that during the increased trend of biking the bike path infrastructure has been expanded. The bike path infrastructure is inconsistent with sudden ends every 2,03 km which may create a threshold for the increase of biking. Accessibility of the bike path system is high since over half the population has no longer than 100 m to a bike path. Distance may be a constricting factor since over half of randomised journeys are longer than a considerable comfortable biking distance of 5 km. Urban planning that treats biking as any other mean of transportation, development of a biking culture and individual habits is crucial for biking to increase.

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