Exploring Synergy in Bicycle and Transit Use

This study of bicycle-transit synergy found that transit and cycling may be modal substitutes on a day-to-day basis but complements in the long term.


  • Increases in bicycle commuting were associated with higher per-capita transit ridership in urban areas, even when other factors were controlled.
  • Areas with higher per-capita transit ridership and transit commute mode shares had larger increases in bicycling, even when other factors were controlled. However, greater increases in bicycle commuting were seen for larger white, non-Hispanic populations, newer housing, greater unemployment, and fewer hot days in two separate models.
  • Cycling individuals were more likely to live in transit-using households, but further analyses showed that residing in these households decreased the odds of cycling.  The authors attributed this result to unknown confounding variables or similar socioeconomic characteristics or preferences among bicyclists and transit users for non-auto modes.


  • The study used regression models to conduct aggregate analyses of bicycle commuting and transit use in large urban areas in the U.S. from 2000-2010. A separate analysis was used to estimate the effect of transit use on odds of bicycling by households, individuals, and trips from the Oregon Household Activity Survey in 2011. This study design provides information about correlations but does not allow conclusions about causality.

Singleton, P.A., Clifton, K.J. (2014). Exploring Synergy in Bicycle and Transit Use: Empirical Evidence at Two Scales. Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board. 2417 (3), 92-102.

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