Transportation survey yields findings useful in future planning

Coalition for Responsible Transportation Priorities

HUMBOLDT —The Coalition for Responsible Transportation Priorities has released the results of a survey of Humboldt County residents about how they get around their communities, and how they feel about the transportation options available to them. 

The results show that how people use and perceive the local transportation system depends to a certain extent on where they live in the county. However, many opinions cross geographical boundaries.

“This is valuable and timely information with the County working on its Climate Action Plan,” said Fifth District Supervisor Steve Madrone. “It helps inform transportation planning for our entire community. For instance, the information collected in this study suggests that McKinleyville will need a much-improved transit system before folks will choose to use it. We can do that, and this information will help support that effort.”

“The coalition’s survey is an excellent example of citizen science and a demonstration of its commitment to gathering critical information needed to support data-driven and evidence-based decision-making,” said Dr. Andrea Hamre, research associate at the Western Transportation Institute, which was not involved with the survey. “One of the clear takeaways from the survey responses is the community’s appetite for safer and more convenient sustainable transportation options. In U.S. transportation planning, we often assume driving is the preferred default mode for most people and make investments accordingly. This survey provides important evidence to counter that narrative in Humboldt County and support a reimagining of transportation investment prioritization.”

Some of the key findings of the survey include:

• Residents overwhelmingly enjoy walking and biking and want to do more of those things and less driving. However, residents prioritize convenience, time, comfort and safety when making mode choices, and often rank local non-car options low on these criteria. Residents broadly want to see better bike, pedestrian, and public transit systems developed locally.

• Currently, driving is the most common mode of transportation, but most respondents also get around as a pedestrian or by bike daily or at least once a week.

• People of different genders and ages use the local transportation system differently. Women ride the bus and/or carpool more frequently than men, and walk and/or bike less frequently. Older residents drive, carpool and/or ride the bus less frequently than younger residents.

• Perceptions of the transportation system vary by gender, age, race/ethnicity, income and disability status.

• Women are less likely than men to consider walking, biking and riding the bus as safe and easy ways to get around.

• Older residents are less likely to consider walking and biking as easy and convenient and more likely to have positive perceptions of car ownership and driving.

• People of color reported more positive perceptions of biking and riding the bus than did White/Non-Hispanic people.

• Lower-income residents like biking, but don’t consider it as safe as higher-income residents do. Lower-income residents are less likely to consider driving pleasant or affordable and more likely to find current bus schedules inconvenient.

• Residents with disabilities are less likely than residents with no disabilities to consider most modes of transportation safe, easy, convenient or pleasant. Residents with disabilities want to ride the bus more often but often have negative perceptions around public transit.

• Reasons for choosing a transportation mode vary by gender, race/ethnicity, and income. 

• People of color are more likely to prioritize environmental impact in their mode choice decisions.

• Lower-income residents, women and people of color are more likely to prioritize cost in mode choice decisions.

The coalition hosted the online survey in both English and Spanish from Feb. 8 through March 15, 2021. The survey was promoted through email, social media, and local news outlets. 128 Humboldt County residents responded. 

Detailed summaries of the survey’s findings are available at transportationpriorities.org. Raw survey data are available upon request, on the condition that no personally identifiable information of survey respondents be published.




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