Journal article

Pedestrian and cyclist preferences for tree locations by sidewalks and cycle tracks and associated benefits: Worldwide implications from a study in Boston, MA

Open spaces Transport Landscape design Cycling outdoor thermal discomfort Boston

To increase levels of biking while improving safety, cities around the world have started building barrier-protected bicycle-exclusive cycle tracks between the sidewalk and the street. With cycle tracks, the unanswered urban planning issues include whether and where to plant street trees and, if planted, whether the trees in that location provide associated benefits. A visual preference survey (Strongly dislike/disagree = 1, to Strongly like/agree = 7) that involved the existing five cycle tracks in the Boston, MA area asked pedestrians and cyclists (N = 836, 49.3% cyclists) their preferences about whether trees should be planted and, if yes, the preferred locations on the sidewalk/cycle track they were using. Photomontages of pictures of those locations included: 1) no trees; 2) trees between the sidewalk and the cycle track; 3) trees between the cycle track and the street; 4) trees with bushes between the cycle track and the street, and, on one street; 5) trees in the street between the parallel-parked cars. In the five sidewalk/cycle track locations, trees were preferred. Trees with bushes between the cycle track and the street/parked cars were most preferred (mean 6.1) and trees between the cycle track and the street parked/cars were second most preferred (mean 5.8). In a test for differences between cyclists and pedestrians, pedestrians on only one sidewalk/cycle track preferred trees between the sidewalk and the cycle track (pedestrian mean 4.8 – cyclist mean 3.6). This difference in preference might indicate that some pedestrians prefer delineation to separate their walkway from the cyclists' pathway. Participants also indicated that trees and bushes located between the cycle track and street/parked cars were best at blocking perception of traffic (4.7), lessening the perception of pollution exposure (5.2), and making the participant feel cooler (5.4). With new-to-cities cycle tracks and the increasing focus on active mobility, a new standard could be trees on the roadside edge of cycle tracks.

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