Measuring Walking and Cycling Using the PABS (Pedestrian and Bicycling Survey) Approach
A Low-Cost Survey Method for Local Communities
Mineta Transportation Institute
To tackle the problems of greenhouse gas emissions, traffic congestion, resident quality of life, and public health concerns, communities are using initiatives to spur more walking and cycling. As local governments face hard choices about which programs to fund, decision makers, planners, and residents seek to understand if proposed policies to increase bicycling and walking -- modes referred to as "active travel" -- actually work. However, most communities have unreliable means to know how many active travel trips occur in their jurisdictions, let alone how the numbers may change over time. This project developed a low-budget survey method and related sampling strategy for communities to easily, affordably, and reliably document the amount of local walking and cycling happening among their residents. The Pedestrian and Bicycling Survey (PABS) approach allows communities to answer such questions as:
- How much walking and cycling is occurring in my community?
- What is the purpose of walking and cycling trips?
- Who is completing the bulk of the walking and cycling trips?
- How often are people walking and cycling?
One of the most important contributions of this research project is that the Pedestrian and Bicycling Survey (PABS) instrument has been tested for reliability across administrations (test-retest reliability). The PABS tool achieved adequate to excellent reliability for most questions, creating a useful instrument and a baseline for future comparison with other instruments.