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Urban intensification is believed to facilitate the sustainability of urban areas through increased compactness and resulting modal shift away from single occupancy motor vehicles towards active transportation. Most intensification strategies rely on increasing both the supply of apartments and active transportation. Cycling is an important part of the mix, as the area accessible to people bicycling is ten times greater than for walking.
However, the literature on density and bicycling is mixed, with some reports indicating increased density is associated with increased, other reports finding no association and reviews finding mixed influence. Recent analysis of TTS data found evidence that a trip originating from an apartment-based household was less than half as likely to be taken by bicycle as a similar trip originating in a house-based household. The result suggests dwelling type is almost as important as gender in determining who cycles in Toronto. Population density has a negative impact on bicycling when people are living in apartments and townhomes, but not when they are living in houses.
For planners working on intensification and sustainability, I conducted four focus groups with both house and apartment dwellers exploring why this might be so. This presentation will focus on the results of the focus groups.