Funding: Active Living Research, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Summary: There is increasing evidence that the built environment of communities can inhibit or enhance activity levels among all age groups. A key aspect of the built environment is provision of facilities and opportunities for bicycling, which has long been recognized as an activity with important health benefits. Yet the quality of bicycling facilities varies dramatically from community to community as some communities have recently developed high quality bicycling assets while other communities demonstrate very little progress in this regard. The cause of this variance remains unstudied.
This project consists of comparative case studies of policy changes in three counties of Metropolitan Washington-Arlington (VA), Fairfax (VA), and Montgomery (MD)-that have resulted in significantly different levels of bicycling facilities in each county despite a common metropolitan environment and many shared characteristics among the three counties. The study will explain how significant differences in the county policies evolved, why different policy tools were chosen, and the consequences of those choices.