Does cycling stress you out? Examining cyclist comfort using real-time data, empirical analysis, and GIS

Authors: Greg Rybarczyk*, University of Michigan-Flint
Topics: Transportation Geography, Geographic Information Science and Systems, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: cycling, time-geography, GIS, wearable sensors, geovisualization
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM
Room: Congressional B, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Examining the well-being of cyclists is becoming a strong research agenda item in large part because it has the potential for a permanent mode-shift. The growing body of research remains limited in the sense that spatiotemporal concepts (i.e., time-geography) have not fully been incorporated. The underlying premise of the current study was: how can "time-geography" serve as a theory and method to investigate cyclist stress in Wuppertal, Germany. We met this call by utilizing wearable sensors to measure real-time cyclist stressors in an urban environment. In detail, we harnessed participants with several sensors to measure human stress and environmental conditions in real-time. This allowed us to determine where and why cyclist stress was elevated at any given location and time. The current study also controlled for important other factors that may influence stress such as: syntactical urban form, slope, land-use, road type, and density. Descriptive statistics and GIS techniques were first used to reveal any statistical or spatial trends. We then used a hierarchical regression model, where the dependent variable was average cyclist heart-rate per roadway segment to highlight causal relations. The results showed that syntactical urban form factors that offered an even distribution of view-able space elevated cycling comfort, while the increase in the angularity of street intersections had the inverse effect. The findings validate the use of wearable sensors for measuring bicycling comfort, and stresses the importance of time-geography in investigating the cyclist stress in urban environments.

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