A study looking at cycling as a method of commuting in Cambridge highlights the importance of new infrastructure in terms of increasing levels of cycling.
The study, undertaken by researchers from the University of Cambridge, concluded that new infrastructure – in this case the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway – is responsible for ‘85% of the effect of increased cycling’.
The study of more than 1,100 participants, compared commuting data from 2009 to 2012 based on how close residents lived to the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway which opened in 2011 and also features a dedicated cycle path.
The researchers looked at perceptions of the route to work, motivational factors and self-reported use of the new cycle path. Outcomes were shown as an increase, decrease or no change in weekly cycle commuting time.
The study concludes that neither perceptions of the commute or motivational factors accounted for the effects of new infrastructure on cycling levels – only the use of the route itself explained the increase in cycling
The results also showed that people living closer to the busway were ‘more likely to perceive more convenient public transport’, which in turn reduced the amount of time they spent cycling.
Despite this, researchers concluded that ‘exposure to the intervention led to an overall increase in the time spent cycling on the commute, mainly through use of the new infrastructure for cycling’.
They added that their findings ‘strengthen the causal argument that changing the environment led to changes in health-related behaviour via use of the new infrastructure, but also show how some commuters may have spent less time cycling as a result’.
Charity Cycling UK told Road.cc that the study provides further evidence for investing in cycling infrastructure, both for improved health and air quality.
Tom Guha, Cycling UK’s space for cycling campaigner, said: “The findings give a clear message to the Department for Transport: if David Cameron wants to realise his ‘cycling revolution’, there is no more effective way than committing meaningful investment into cycle friendly infrastructure.”