Background: People are more physically active in neighborhoods that are well designed for walking and bicycling. Building infrastructure for safer cycling is one way to promote physical activity. On-road bike lanes are one type of infrastructure hypothesized to positively impact levels of cycling. The first on-street bike lane was painted in New Orleans, LA during the spring of 2008. Methods: In November of 2007 and again in November 2008, trained observers conducted manual counts of cyclists riding on St. Claude Avenue in New Orleans, LA. The data collected included the number of men, women, adults, and children riding a bicycle with traffic, against traffic, and on sidewalks. Results: Data showed a 57% increase in the average number of riders per day (P < .001). There was a 133% increase among adult female riders (P < .001) and a 44% increase among adult male riders (P < .001). The percentage of cyclists riding in the correct direction, with the flow of traffic, increased from 73% to 82% (P < .001). Conclusions: Bike lanes can have a positive impact in creating a healthy physical environment. Future research should include other streets for comparison purposes and surveys to determine whether riders are substituting biking for nonactive forms of transportation.
Keywords: before and after studies, physical activity, built environment