Pedal the Old Pueblo: A Naturalistic Study on Bicycling in Tucson, AZ

Joey Iuliano, University of Arizona, Tucson


City investments in bicycle infrastructure can improve residents' health and wellness, lower pollution, fight climate change, and reduce congestion. While transportation geography and planning have long focused on looking at how vehicles, goods, and services move across a region, there is a growing body of research focused on the movement of people through a city.

This dissertation by Joey Iuliano of the University of Arizona uses both the City of Tucson and Pima County, Arizona – a region of low-density development, traditionally focused on the car and now trying to improve cycling rates – to explore how cyclists interact with other road users and the built environment and how we can use that information for better bicycle infrastructure planning.

"There are many different reasons to ride a bike – commuting, recreational riding, and athletic pursuits are a few. This dissertation work highlights the need to understand how different types of cyclists interact with the built environment and their experiences with other road users. Utilizing video cameras helps fill in this gap by capturing their lived experiences throughout the course of a ride. Coupling this footage with larger datasets, such as annual bicycle counts or Strava, can show planners where there are issues with safety and infrastructure design, how many others may be experiencing those issues, and helps with targeted improvements," Iuliano said. 

The original research presented in this dissertation answers this question through three interconnected papers that explore the history of cycling planning and the opportunities and barriers to bicycle planning in the region, factors that influence route choice, and an analysis of the lived experiences of cycling in the region. This research helps advance bicycle planning by expanding on how multiple types of riders – people who commute via bicycle, who ride for leisure, or who ride for sport – move through and interact with the built environment to design and plan better infrastructure.

The research highlights opportunities to continue to expand on the use of video to understand cyclist behavior and interactions in the built environment to identify gaps in the infrastructure. Additionally, the dissertation demonstrates opportunities for planning scholars and university outreach departments to collaborate with practitioners to put research into practice.

Project Details

Project Type:
Project Status:
End Date:
May 31,2021
UTC Grant Cycle:
NITC 16 Dissertation Fellowships 2019
UTC Funding:

Other Products

  • Joseph Edward Iuliano | (2022) Where and how Tucsonans ride and implications for cycling infrastructure, Cogent Social Sciences, 8:1, 2054127, DOI: 10.1080/23311886.2022.2054127 (PUBLICATION)