Immigration will drive population growth in the United States for the next half century, and planners concerned with sustainability and social equity need to understand how the trend will impact transportation needs. Using national datasets, previous research finds immigrants bicycle and take other sustainable modes more than their counterparts born in the United States, controlling for sociodemographic factors, immigrant neighborhoods, and some built environment characteristics. However, none have explored how small-scale built environment factors, personal preferences, or the social environment motivate their travel decisions.

My dissertation, “Making the Invisible Rider Visible: Motivations for Bicycling and Public Transit Use among Latino Immigrants,” addresses the gap in scholarship. It is a mixed-methods study on what influences Latino immigrants to bicycle and take public transportation in the San Francisco Bay Area. Using a custom-designed intercept survey, interviews, and secondary spatial data analysis, I explored how individual, social, and built environment factors influence bicycling and how they vary between immigrants and people born in the United States. I find personal preferences and social networks strongly influence cycling among both immigrants and non-immigrants, though the effects of social connections appear to be stronger for immigrants. I find little evidence for an effect of the built environment on cycling as I measured it. The results suggest the need for planning to leverage the strength of social networks in cycling promotion.

Current work

Pedestrian and bicycle safety: SafeTREC partners with California Walks to conduct workshops across California that teach community members how to identify pedestrian and bicycle safety problems and build community relationships to improve safety programs. Our research is measuring the short-term effectiveness of this program through surveys and participant-observation of the workshops. This work is funded by the California Office of Traffic Safety.

Crowdsourcing safety data: Active transportation planners increasingly use personally-submitted data to estimate volume or safety incidents to supplement official data sources: think applications like Strava, CycleTracks, and Our goal with this work is to develop a statewide application in California that will ask users to submit pedestrian and bicycle safety incidents. We want to understand how the geographic patterns of incidents differ from those represented in official data sources like police and hospital records, and whether there are biases in the data based on who submits. This work is also funded by California OTS, with additional support from the UC Berkeley Center for Technology, Society & Policy.

School travel: With my colleague Ariel Bierbaum, we are exploring connections between school choice and travel choice for families in urban school districts. Some of the questions we’re exploring: How does school choice affect transportation choice, and by extension, the time, distance, and cost burdens associated with getting to school? How do these choices and their attendant burdens compare across students in neighborhood public schools and charter schools? For those choosing charter schools over their neighborhood public schools, what is the trade-off for their different travel burden; are they actually getting to higher quality, less segregated, and/or lower poverty schools or neighborhoods?

Affordable housing, TODs, and travel: This work speaks to whether living in TODs meets the needs of affordable housing residents in terms of evaluating travel affordability, access to regional employment, and access to other opportunities compared to other affordable housing developments. The research will offer an evaluation of a regional transit agency’s progress toward meeting TOD goals of more multimodal travel and equitable access of opportunity.

Other published work


Barajas, Jesus M., Daniel G. Chatman, and Asha W. Agrawal. 2016. Exploring Bicycle and Public Transit Use by Low-Income Latino Immigrants: A Mixed-Methods Study in the San Francisco Bay Area. MTI Report. San José, CA: Mineta Transportation Institute. Link.

Book reviews

Barajas, Jesus M. 2017. Review of Bicycle Justice and Urban Transformation: Biking for All?, edited by Aaron Golub, Melody L. Hoffmann, Adonia E. Lugo, and Gerardo F. Sandoval. Journal of the American Planning Association 83 (2): 226-227. E-print. Article.

Barajas, Jesus M. 2014. Review of Bikenomics: How Bicycling Can Save the Economy, by Elly Blue. Berkeley Planning Journal 27: 110–12. Link.

Peer-reviewed conference papers

Barajas, Jesus M. 2017. “Bicycling Is Freedom: A Qualitative Analysis of Latino Immigrant Cycling Experiences.” 96th Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board, Washington, DC, January 8–12.

Barajas, Jesus M., Asha W. Agrawal, and Daniel G. Chatman. 2017. “Immigration, Income, and Public Transit Perceptions: Findings from an Intercept Survey.” 96th Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board, Washington, DC, January 8–12.

Barajas, Jesus M. 2016. “Disparities in Bicycle Crash Influences among Population Groups: Initial Findings.” 95th Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board, Washington, DC, January 10–14. Link.

Barajas, Jesus M. 2012. “Built Environment and Demographic Predictors of Bicycle Access to Transit: An Investigation in the San Francisco Bay Area.” 91st Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board, Washington, DC, January 22–26. Link.

Barajas, Jesus M. 2010. “Regional Bicycle Planning in Los Angeles County: Analysis of Bike-Transit Integration in the Metro Bicycle Transportation Strategic Plan.” 89th Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board, Washington, DC, January 10–14.

Non-core research

Book Chapters

Barajas, Jesus M., Geoff Boeing, and Julie Wartell. Forthcoming (2017). “Neighborhood Change, One Pint at a Time: The Impact of Local Characteristics on Craft Breweries.” In Untapped: Exploring the Cultural Dimensions of the Craft Beer Revolution, edited by Nathaniel G. Chapman, J. Slade Lellock, and Cameron Lippard. Morgantown: West Virginia University Press. Pre-print.