Geo-design in planning and designing for bicycling: an evidence-based approach for collaborative bicycling planning

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Copyright: Zare, Parisa
In recent times cities have increasingly promoted bicycling as part of their strategy to develop a more sustainable transportation system. To increase the number of bike riders, more bicycling infrastructure should be developed in urban areas. The infrastructure should provide a safe and comfortable environment for bicycling. To this end, bicycling should be prioritised within a city's urban and transportation planning. However, in many cities, bicycling gets little attention in urban plans and strategies. One barrier to enhanced bicycling, in many cities around the world, is the organisational complexity, under several tiers of government, of planning and implementing bicycling infrastructure. Such is the case in Australia, where local and state government departments have often distinct policies and strategies for planning bicycling infrastructure that cause problems in project coordination. In addition, decisions about where to prioritise investment in bicycling infrastructure need to be supported with valid and comprehensive evidence. Planning Support Systems (PSS) are geo-information tools that have been created to provide this evidence and support specific urban planning tasks such as bicycling planning. However, improving city bicycling isn't solely reliant on data-driven techniques and new technologies; it also demands planners' adoption of these methods while working collaboratively with other stakeholders. The emerging field of Planning Support Science highlights the significance of research-practice collaboration to achieve shared goals and provide valuable support to those in the field. Geo-design is an approach that enables such collaboration using geo-information tools to support the planning process in a collaborative environment. The geo-design framework enhances the planning approach by providing key stakeholders with data-driven tools ranging from sketch planning to advanced simulation and impact assessment. With these tools, geo-design can be applied to collaboratively construct and evaluate multiple future bike infrastructure scenarios. Therefore, the overarching research question of this study is: ‘How can a geo-design framework facilitate planning for bicycling, and what data-driven methods and tools effectively support such a framework?’. A geo-design framework was developed and evaluated using an experiential case study approach in the Greater Sydney region, specifically focusing on Penrith City (Western Sydney). The main contributions of this research lie in its investigation of the current state of using data-driven approaches to support bicycle planning, and its development, implementation and iterative testing of geo-design incorporating a data-driven support tool based on Agent-Based Modelling (ABM) techniques. The research involved expert participants (transport planners and engineers, urban designers, and academics) from across Sydney, including people from both State and Local Government Authorities and other key stakeholders in bicycling planning. The findings of this research provide a novel framework for planners that can guide collaborative planning for better bicycling infrastructure. In addition, the application of data-driven tools, such as ABM for simulation of bicyclists behaviours, augments the evidence base and improves decision-making. Overall, this study has shown that the proposed geo-design framework and developed data-driven tools can improve planning for bicycling by facilitating collaboration among decision-makers and stakeholders.
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PhD Doctorate