Date of Award

6-2016

Degree Name

Master of City and Regional Planning

Department

City and Regional Planning

Advisor

William Riggs

Abstract

There are a number of issues preventing the rollout of cargo bikes as a transportation mode in the United States. One concern that has been raised is whether cargo bikes can function as a gender equitable transportation solution in the United States, given documented gender gaps in national bike riding statistics and ongoing inequities in childcare in 2-parent heterosexual households. The research is aimed at reviewing the practicality, enjoyment, and outcome of cargo bike use as a gender equitable transportation solution. This research contributes to new knowledge in gender equitable transportation in 2 ways — a) gender-focused analysis of survey data regarding cargo bikes use; b) extended open-ended interviews with mothers with cargo bikes. Qualitative and quantitative data from surveys and interviews explore the influence of cargo bikes on transportation patterns and follow how behavior, attitude, spatial context, and perception varies between riders. Specific attention is given to the use of cargo bikes by women with children, as this demographic represents a minority group in the bicycle community and a group who could benefit most from the capabilities of a cargo bike design. Research shows, mothers spend more hours a day around their children and take part in more child-related activities. Therefore, the comfort and feasibility of the cargo bike for women with children becomes the topic of exploration to determine whether this mode type is a functional substitution for trips usually made by an automobile. Through the collection of a nation-wide survey of cargo bike riders and in-person interviews with mothers in San Luis Obispo, CA who currently use a cargo bike to transport their children and goods, the research assesses the travel patterns of women and the emotional and physical benefits cargo bikes can provide to this specific demographic. Results show that benefits of cargo bike use include boding opportunities with children and a more enjoyable commute, while barriers to use include ill-performing bicycle infrastructure and time allocation for trips made by the cargo bike, in comparison to the automobile. Mode substitution behavior from the automobile to the cargo bike is geographically and culturally specific, but as results from both parts of the study show, women are receptive to cargo bike use and demonstrate a powerful demographic that has the potential to influence the travel patterns of current and future commuters to shift away from automobile dependency.