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How Safe Do We Feel While Cycling?

How Safe Do We Feel While Cycling?

As the days get longer and warmer, now is a great time of year to think about biking more or giving it a try if it’s been awhile.

Our map of the month on bike safety provides a resource communities can explore to develop goals for improving bike (and pedestrian) access and safety, especially around city and neighborhood centers that contain key destinations, like groceries, entertainment, and other services.

Research has shown that there is a large group of potential cyclists that are “interested in biking more, but concerned about safety.” A study in Portland, Oregon (Dill and McNeil 2012) found that this group represented 50-60% of the adult population – much larger than those who already bike a lot or those who had no interest. 

The bike safety map is presented from the perspective of an interested, but concerned cyclist, estimating the level of traffic stress (LTS) perceived by most adult, non-enthusiasts riders. LTS is calculated using an established method that looks at speeds, number of lanes, the amount of vehicle traffic, and existing bicycle facilities.

On the map, major roads with an LTS score of 2 – comfortable for all adult cyclists – or better, together with separated pathways are shown as green lines. Roads and signalized intersections with a higher LTS score are shown on the map in yellow (less comfortable) and red (not comfortable).

Take a look at your community, focusing on the routes that access areas that have the highest concentration of destinations that residents want or need to access. What does the comfort level look like as cyclists approach these areas from their homes? Are there comfortable and safe routes to connect with these activity centers, or does more work need to be done to improve the comfort for people on bikes and/or walking?

Are there safe routes that you use in your community that you want to share with us? We’d love to hear about them. Feel free to contact Hugh Van Wagenen (, Active Transportation Planner, to let us know how you bike around town.

More resources about Level of Traffic Stress for bicyclists can be found here.

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