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

Joey Iuliano, University of Arizona, Tucson


Concerns for the environment and personal health have made bicycling an increasingly popular mode of transportation in the US. Understanding how bicyclists move through the built environment is critical to designing infrastructure that promotes safe riding. Tucson is a prime location to study cyclist behavior because of the large cycling community, good weather, and significant investments made in cycling infrastructure. This study uses Tucson as a case to ask: 1.) How do these different types of riders interact with the built environment? 2.) Where are the problem areas with motorists for different types of riders? Moreover, 3.) How can this study be designed to be useful to the city transportation planning department to improve on the 5 E’s, Engineering; Education; Encouragement; Enforcement; and Evaluation & Planning, of bicycle planning? These questions will be answered through analysis of GPS files, video recordings from rides, Strava data, observations, surveys, and interviews with stakeholders. The outcomes of the study will address the gap in understanding how cyclists interact with the built environment while promoting collaboration with the City of Tucson and advocating for infrastructure improvements. Funds will be used to purchase the GPS devices, video devices, a limited Strava dataset, and possibly for a student research assistant to review and code video footage. 


The project outlined draws from the fields of geography and urban planning, making it an interdisciplinary study. In doing so, the project is uniquely positioned to be beneficial to both fields. For geography, the study adds value to transportation theory and data on how people move through space. Within urban planning, the study contributes to infrastructure design and promotes diverse transportation networks and communities. It also contributes to environmental planning by shifting the focus of transportation planning away from car-centric and towards a more holistic approach. Funding for transportation projects- especially active transportation- is always limited. With a better understanding of how people interact with their environment, we can make the best use of limited funds to create healthier, cleaner, and more vibrant communities. Most importantly, the findings from this study can be used to help build and design safer infrastructure that helps get more people out moving. 

Project Details

Project Type:
Project Status:
In Progress
End Date:
December 01,2020
UTC Grant Cycle:
NITC 16 Dissertation Fellowships 2019
UTC Funding: