3.2. Distance of the Trip and Modes of Transportation
A study on trips of short distances, financed by the European Union, highlighted the very high proportion of journeys made in cars that could be made using another mode of transport without any significant difference in the journey time door-to-door. For such journeys alone, bicycles could easily replace cars, thus satisfying a large proportion of the demand and contributing directly to cutting down traffic jams [11
Preveza is an example of this effort. In the first part of the questionnaire, the residents were asked about the way they were moving in Preveza city. According to the results, residents preferred walking and cycling as the main modes of transportation covering a mean of distance 3.34 km and 5.08 km, respectively. Cars and motorcycles were less preferred modes (Table 2
). Fewer residents preferred moving with public transportation for their needs; in large Greek cities, travel choices are still primarily oriented toward cars and motorcycles [14
By contrast, in megacities like Sao Paolo, Brazil, the mean distance of the daily cycling trips was 3.8 km [63
]. More than 30% of trips made by cars in Europe cover distances of less than three kilometers and 50% are less than five kilometers [12
]. In Preveza, regarding the question about the distance residents indicated for trips made by car or motorcycle, 16.5% of the residents stated using these two modes even for less than 0.1 km. Meanwhile, the majority (50.2%) used cars or motorcycles for distances longer than four kilometers (Table 3
3.3. The Use of the Bicycle and Cyclist Behavior
Bicyclists in various countries prefer moving in bicycle lanes and paths with moderate elevation in beautiful green landscapes without pollution and noise [64
]. Accessibility to green areas by bicycle may contribute to quality of life in urban areas [66
]. Preveza has a bicycle network near automobile roads (Figure 2
) and is combining this kind of bicycle network with a network near the sea by the Amvrakikos Gulf, one of the most renowned biotopes in Greece. In this respect, 45.5% of residents had the opinion that the city of Preveza was absolutely suitable for bicycling for their transportation, and 19.2% considered it very suitable. The remaining respondents characterized Preveza’s suitability for bicycling as moderate (23%), little (10%), or not at all (2.2%).
According to the results, the vast majority (90.5%) of residents had a positive association of riding a bicycle, only 1% had a negative association, and 8.5% were indifferent. It was found that 28.2% always used a bicycle for their daily mobility needs, 26% used it often, 17.2% used it sometimes, 11.2% used it rarely and 17.2% never used it.
Comparing these results with a similar study in Orestiada, a comparable sized city without a bicycle network, the views were completely different [17
]. The majority of residents (56.3%) never used a bicycle for their transportation and 22% rarely used it. Only 5% always used a bicycle. The above results provide evidence on the importance of cycle network construction to encourage cycling. We could discern the necessity of new additional cycle networks in the town because the vast majority of residents supported the use of bicycles, but recognized the creation of problems to pedestrians in parks (74.8%), in pedestrian zones (70%), and on sidewalks (27.5%).
Studies on large US cities found that each additional linear mile of bike lanes per square mile land area was associated with a roughly 1% increase in share of bike commuters [67
]. However, it should be noted that those American cities were large, compact, and had mixed land uses. Furthermore, safety when using bicycles, especially for children, seemed to bother the residents of Preveza. Almost half (42.2%) found bicycling was a little safe, while 24.2% said that it was not safe at all. Twenty-three percent were indifferent and only 7% and 3.5%, respectively, had the opinion that the bicycle was very or absolutely safe. According to Pucher et al. [64
], the lack of infrastructure was associated with the lack of safety, especially for children.
Residents of Preveza had the opinion that young cyclists rarely (43%), never (12%), or sometimes (32.8%) followed the transportation rules of the road. Fewer residents stated that young cyclists often (11.8%) and always (0.5%) followed the code in their transportation bicycling.
The residents’ attitude about auto drivers’ behavior regarding cyclists was discontented. Respondents stated that drivers respected bicyclists on the road rarely (40%), never (13.2%), sometimes (34.8%), and often (10%). Only 2% stated that drivers always respected bicyclists on the road. Similarly, residents said that bicyclists sometimes (39.8%), rarely (29.2%), or never (7.8%) followed the code. Only about one-third of them (20.5% often and 2.8% always) followed the code. According to Vlastos et al. [13
], all cyclists (regular and occasional) in the city of Patras had the intention to drive without following the code.
Regarding the question on whether education and training tests for young bicyclists had to be instituted, six to ten residents (59.2%) replied positively and 40.8% replied negatively. In similar research in the city of Orestiada, half of respondents agreed with that attitude [17
The use of the bicycle is related to the residents’ behavior in their natural and social environment regarding their daily transportation [2
]. Regarding the question on how bicycle usage by other residents could affect their own decision to use it, 72.5% of the respondents said it was positive and 27.5% said it was negative.
The increase of the presence of cyclists in urban areas and the number of cycling accidents on the roads call for a deeper study of riding behavior to make the infrastructural investments effective and urban cycling safer [69
3.4. Evaluation of the Existing Infrastructure
Many studies have shown that cycling infrastructure is a prerequisite for the expansion of bicycle use [68
]. A recent survey in one Greek city (Volos) found that although Greeks express a high intention to use bicycles for their daily activities, it was also clear that due to the lack of infrastructure, residents were very reluctant to manifest this intention [39
In this paper, the residents of Preveza were asked to evaluate the existing bicycling infrastructure and then, more specifically, the infrastructure facilities of the city, which included the cycle networks in the city, parking places, training places for children, and cycle networks out of the city. Respondents evaluated the infrastructure as bad (40.5%), very bad (18.8%), and mediocre (32%). Only 7% and 1.8% found the total infrastructure was good and very good, respectively. When they evaluated each one of the infrastructures separately, they all had low evaluations (Table 4
In England, actions to promote cycling have focused on making this form of travel easy and attractive through the development of new infrastructure and the provision of cycling training, especially for children. Underlying all these activities is an assumption, often implicit, that if cycling is made sufficiently easy and attractive, people will automatically shift short journeys from the car to more active modes like cycling and that they can be nudged into travel behavior that is better for them and the environment [9
In Greek cities, the lack of car-restriction policies and inadequate cycling infrastructure, resulted in a low proportion of cycling trips (0.9%) when compared to other European countries [70
]. For that reason, residents were not satisfied with the local authority’s actions to support bicycle use in the city of Preveza, evaluating it as insufficient or absolutely insufficient. Residents evaluated the activity of bicycle clubs more positively (Table 5
Cycling is an inexpensive mode of transportation with low maintenance costs. The benefits of investments in cycling infrastructure are estimated to be four to five times greater than the costs and are more beneficial to society than automobile-related transport investments [29
]. The residents of Preveza had the same opinion. A great majority of them characterized bicycling as very cheap (40.8%) and cheap (36.2%). Fewer found it very expensive (1.8%) and expensive (4%), while 17.2% had the opinion that cycling was neither an expensive or inexpensive mode of transportation. When the residents were asked about the possibility of partial financial support from the state in buying bicycles, they stated that a subvention of about 40–60% of the cost was a good idea to support the use of cycling (Figure 3
3.5. Factors Influencing Residents to Cycling
Most residents of Preveza recognize the potential health and local environmental benefits of bicycling for short trips in urban areas (Table 6
). The improvement of general health, saving money, less contribution to atmospheric pollution, reduction of noise, ecofriendly lifestyle-example for children, and convenient transportation and parking were the most important positive factors that positively influenced residents to cycle. Similar evaluations were found in four cities of England, which cited benefits to heath, saving money, and decreasing air pollution as most important [9
]. In contrast, Indian residents of small-sized cities evaluated physical fitness as the most important factor to influence cycling [18
For the above factors, multi-theme variable reliability and factor analysis were applied after the performance of the necessary tests. The reliability coefficient α was 0.824 and this result constitutes strong evidence that the grades of the scale were logically consistent. Furthermore, this was also confirmed by the significantly high individual correlation coefficients α after the deletion of any advantage.
From the applied factor analysis two factors were excluded. The first factor included the variables “convenient transportation and parking”, “improvement of social communication”, “general health”, “eco-friendly lifestyle-example for children”, and “save money”, which were named as “benefits for the user”. The second factor included the variables “reduction of traffic jam”, “less contribution to atmospheric pollution”, and “reduction of noise pollution”, which were named as “benefits for the society”. Regarding the first factor, the variable improvement of social communication could also be included in the second factor, as its value was merely lower than 0.5 (Table 7
). Therefore, the aforementioned variable can be considered as a bridge between the first and the second factor, namely between the individual and social welfare.
However, most respondents in different European cities also identified a range of factors that made it difficult to reduce car use, even for short journeys [9
]. Guaranteeing the safety of cyclists in a town is a prerequisite for promoting cycling as a daily mode of transport [71
]. Many potential cyclists were already thinking about cycling, but they needed safer infrastructure from the public authorities before they got back on their bicycles [12
]. According to the residents of Preveza, the negative factors affecting cycling were insufficient infrastructure, exposure to extreme weather conditions, and safety risk (Table 8
). However, in small-sized cities of India, the perceived negative factors were route visibility, presence of motorized vehicles, street parking, and physical exhaustion [18
For the above multi-theme variable, reliability analysis was applied. The reliability coefficient α was 0.723, and after the application of factor analysis two factors were extracted. The first factor included the variables “low speed in moving”, “safety hazard”, “feeling of oddity”, “physical exhaustion”, “lonesome on the route”; this was named as “charge for the user”. The second factor included the variables “deficiencies to moving” and “exposure to extreme weather conditions”; this was named as “deficiency of infrastructures” (Table 9
). The variable “low speed” had the value 0.493 in the second factor and was considered as a bridge between the first and the second factor.
The number of the clusters was determined from the specific program SPSS by applying the two-step cluster analysis. The observations were grouped into three clusters as the optimum solution. More specifically, of the 400 respondents, 28.4% were placed in the first cluster, 16.6% in the second cluster, and 55.0% in the third cluster.
Regarding the relative significance of the variables (continuous and categorical) in the formation of the clusters, the diagrammatic representations of Figure 4
present the statistical significance tests. In the case of the continuous variables, it was observed that the variable “insufficient infrastructure” tended to play a significant role in the formation of the first cluster, while the variable “charge for the user” was the reason for the formation of the second cluster. The variables “benefit for the society” and “benefit for the user” were the reason for the formation of the third cluster (Figure 4
Furthermore, regarding the categorical variables, the value of the statistical Χ2
exceeded the limits of the critical value, which led to the conclusion that all the categorical variables used in the analysis were significant for the formation of the three clusters (Figure 4
presents the characteristics of the three clusters. The Pearson’s X2
test for a statistical significance α < 0.04 presented the relation of the three clusters with other quality variables. Correspondingly, the analysis of variance (one-way ANOVA) for statistical significance α < 0.003 revealed the relation of the three clusters with the quantitative variables.
The first cluster included residents who rarely or never cycle and consider infrastructure deficiencies as the most important negative factor that influence cycling. They considered the city of Preveza not suitable for cycling, and did not accept the use of bicycles in sidewalks and pedestrian zones, nor did they accept state financial support in bicycle acquisition. The first cluster was made up of middle aged (31–50 years old) residents not familiar with cycling. They were not positively affected by seeing other residents cycling and they traveled mainly by car or walking.
The second cluster included residents who always or sometimes used bicycles for their transportation needs. They found their city not suitable for cycling. The second cluster was made up of young aged people (18–30 years old) who knew how to cycle and were positively affected by seeing other people cycling. They covered with bicycle the same distance as residents of the third cluster, but shorter distances by car and longer distances on foot. Although they accepted the use of bicycles on the road pavement and on the pedestrian zone, they did not accept the concept of financial support from the state. The main characteristic of this cluster was the perceived negative factors that influence cycling, which were physical exhaustion and feeling of oddity.
The third cluster included more than half of the residents. They owned bicycle and most of them were over 50 years old. Furthermore, they considered both the benefits for the residents and society as the most important positive factors influencing the use of the bicycle. They accepted the use of bicycles in the pedestrian zone and on sidewalks. They stated that Preveza was suitable or very suitable for cycling. This the cluster had the most positive cycling attitude and, more specifically, a positive attitude toward financial support from the state. They moved in the city mainly by cycling.