Project: Summer Placement 02 - A systematic Review of Cycling Research Findings and Needs: Helping to Implement the National Cycling Strategy

Reference: STP 8/11/12 - C559C/02

Last update: 21/02/2005 09:29:51


To produce a systematic review of cycling research, identifying topic areas and themes, research methodologies and gaps yet to be filled. It willreview completed (since 1990), current and planned cycling research conducted in academic, consultancy and government settings. It will elicit expoert assessments of existing data and remaining research needs by means of telephone, e-mail and some face to face interviews with representatives of cycling and wider transport bodies, policy personel, research funders and the cycling and transport research communities.


This project has been approved through the Summer Placements in Whitehall Scheme. The project deliverables are:
Research design interviews, including DTLR stakeholders involved with urban planning, transport modelling and intergrated transport and produce subsequent analysis and report output by mid July.
Literature review interviews and initial analysis with progress output mid July and end August.
A database of cycling research for Departmental use.
A report and presentation to the National Cycling Strategy Board.
A report to STP for exploitation of Summer Placement Scheme.
An overall report and recommendations to DTLR of project.


University of York
Science and Technology Studies Unit, Department of Sociology, York, Yorkshire, YO10 5DD
01904 432121

Contract details

Cost to the Department: £14,000.00

Actual start date: 01 July 2002

Actual completion date: 31 October 2002


How Can Research into Cycling Help Implement the National Cycling Strategy?
Author: Dr Paul Rosen
November 2002
Source: SATSU - University of York Dr Paul Rosen

Summary of results

  1. Executive Summary

    Achieving the objectives of the National Cycling Strategy is dependent on there being in place a high quality knowledge base to underpin decisions in cycling policy and implementation. This review of cycling research is intended to provide support for the work of the Department for Transport, the National Cycling Strategy Board and other stakeholders in cycling policy and advocacy, by analysing the state of cycling knowledge and identifying gaps that need to be filled. It covers research into cycling that dates back to the early to mid-1990s, focusing especially on projects conducted as a response to developments since the publication of the Strategy in 1996.

    The key findings of the review are:
     Over 150 cycling research projects have been conducted in the UK since the early 1990s. The total cost to the DfT has been something above £5 million in that period, with an average project costs of £125,000. Total research costs are unlikely to have exceeded £15 million, a small fraction of total UK transport research costs.
     The research priorities identified in the National Cycling Strategy continue to be those which demand the most attention, but newer concerns with issues such as social inclusion, health and young people also need to be addressed. The framing of research priorities needs to balance the interests of a range of governmental and non-governmental stakeholders.
     Research projects have addressed the full range of NCS research priorities, though more attention needs to be paid to understanding the balance between different kinds of cycling (notably utility and leisure cycling), complexities within the cycling market, the possibilities for interdisciplinary research, and especially strategic work aimed at progressing the NCS.
     The most pressing need is for a comprehensive research strategy which ensures that projects are commissioned to underpin the objectives of the NCS. The resulting research programme should cover the full range of research priorities, it should include a balance between different methodologies and disciplines, and it should address short-, medium- and long-term goals.
     Greater investment in cycling research is needed to achieve this, both from the DfT but also from the university research councils, whose commitment to research on sustainable transport modes has not yet been translated into much research funding.

    In conclusion, cycling research is comparatively cheap to fund, and produces excellent value for money by generating crucial background knowledge to inform those making and implementing decisions about cycling policy and facilities. A stronger commitment to cycling research from the major research funders - in the form of both funding and management - will strengthen efforts to achieve the Strategy's objectives.

Departmental Assessment Status: Project completed prior to implementation of Departmental Publication Scheme.