In Lisbon disadvantaged areas have worse access to bike lanes and bike-sharing systems

For the attention of: Urban cycling organisations, WHO European Healthy Cities Network, Urban designers 

The problem: Bicycle lanes and bike-sharing systems are increasingly popular responses to mitigate the challenges of public health and environmental sustainability. However, implementation can raise issues linked to equity. Inequity of access to the cycling network reinforces social disparities in health and access to resources and opportunities. We thus need to know how equitable the spatial distribution of cycling infrastructure is, and if more vulnerable communities have poorer access.

What we did and why: This study examines whether an area-level material deprivation index is associated with different levels of accessibility to (i) cycling network and (ii) bike-sharing docking stations network. Independent t-tests were implemented, and regression models were performed to estimate the associations of the multiple deprivation index with each dependent bike lane and bike-sharing docking station variable, adjusting for covariates.

What our study adds: Our results indicate that:

  • a significant difference exists between the most and least deprived areas in terms of access to cycling infrastructures,
  • higher material deprivation is associated with a lower presence of, greater distance to, and lower coverage of bike-sharing docking stations and coverage of cycle lane networks,
  • underlying characteristics of urban areas (increased slope, people aged 18-35) play a major role.

Implications for city policy and practice: Our study and its approach offer useful additional evidence and techniques that can provide public authorities recommendations about how to conduct future cycling network extension projects. Based on the study’s findings, efforts should be directed to increase access to bike lanes and bike-sharing systems in more deprived areas.

For further information:

Map and data of the slope of the road network, calculated from the longitudinal slope of Lisbon roads

Lisbon shared cycle scheme map

Full research article: Cycling infrastructures and equity: an examination of bike lanes and bike sharing system in Lisbon, Portugal by Miguel Padeiro.