Project: Evaluating the Success of Urban Cycle Networks

Reference: STP 14/6/15

Last update: 27/07/2004 10:52:22


The project aims to identify the relative importance of different factors in the decision to undertake a journey by cycle or other means.


This study will be based on case study investigations of existing urban cycle networks. The hypothesis of the study is that the decision whether to undertake a journey by cycle rather than other modes of transport is based on a combination of factors:

The extent of cycling provision and gradient
The extent to which dedicated cycle lanes are integrated in the urban fabricand provide utility for cyclists.
The extent of exposure to traffic
The relative distance, time involved and cost of the journey by other modes of transport.


Cardiff University (research and consultancy division)
55 Park Place, Cardiff, Wales, CF10 3AT

Contract details

Cost to the Department: £49,200.00

Actual start date: 01 February 2001

Actual completion date: 30 June 2003


Evaluating the success of urban cycle networks
Author: Joanne Patterson
Publication date: 31/01/2003
Source: Cardiff University
More information:

Summary of results

  1. A questionnaire survey was undertaken to obtain information from cyclists about their journey to work and the factors behind the choice of mode of transport - A pilot study was undertaken in Cardiff to test the methodology of area selection and questionnaire design. 612 questionnaires were distributed receiving an overall response rate of 16.3%, only seven respondents cycled to work. To increase the response rate the full questionnaire was distributed at the workplace targeting only cyclists. Over 80 companies took part who were known to partners. Most questionnaires were distributed during "National Bike Week" and a prize of a saddle was offered as an incentive. In toal 1245 "Do you cycle to work?" questionnaires were returned, an overall response rate of 42%.

    The results from the questionnaire indicate that overall there is little variation in the order of responses for most questions between the three cities. This indicates that even though the cities vary in current provision of facilities and other potentially deterring factors, cyclists agree on the same problems. Traffic is consistently identified to be main problem with risk from cars/vans, safety, difficult junctions and cycle lane provision scoring highly. Cyclists in Cardiff appear to be influenced to a greater extent by deterrents to cycling and as a result will need a greater level of improved facilities to increase cycling numbers. The results from the questionnaire provide valuable information to the local authorities in each of the cities in order to target funds in areas where most needed.

    Novel spatial analysis software has been developed at Cardiff University using the Geographical Information System (GIS) package, MapInfo based on Space Syntax techniques developed at University College London. The spatial analysis techniques used provide an objective measure of the relative accessibility of each road/path within the geographical area under investigation. The model measures the degree to which each road/path on a map is linked to all other road/paths based on the assumption that routes that are more integrated will be used more often, whether it is by pedestrians, cyclists or road traffic. As part of this study spatial analysis procedures have been developed to predict a journey from one individual location to another which enables a comparison of the actual route taken by a cyclist to their place of work with the most direct route as predicted by the model. This enables identification of how many cyclists takes the most direct route to work, how far they deviate from the most direct routeand if they do deviate significantly do they choose to cycle on a route that has better cycling facilities/less traffic. The spatial analysis procedure predicted 25% of routes exactly, with one third of journeys can be predicted to an accuracy of 75% and over half the journeys can be predicted with 50% accuracy.

Departmental Assessment Status: Assessed by FIT Programme Advisory Group 15 July 2004. Allocated score 5/10 - Satisfactory project, achieved targets and objectives, competent research work , outputs likely to have commercial potential.