A natural experimental study of new walking and cycling infrastructure across the United Kingdom: The Connect2 programme

Anna Le Gouais*, Jenna R. Panter, Andy Cope, Jane E. Powell, Emma L. Bird, James Woodcock, David Ogilvie, Louise Foley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
20 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Introduction: High quality evaluations of new walking and cycling routes are scarce and understanding contextual mechanisms influencing outcomes is limited. Using different types of data we investigate how context is associated with change in use of new and upgraded walking and cycling infrastructure, and the association between infrastructure use and overall physical activity.

Methods: We conducted repeat cross-sectional pre-post analysis of monitoring data from a variety of walking and cycling routes built in 84 locations across the United Kingdom (the Connect2 programme, 2009–2013), using four-day user counts (pre n = 189,250; post n = 319,531), next-to-pass surveys of route users (pre n = 15,641; post n = 20,253), and automatic counter data that generated estimates of total annual users. Using multivariable logistic regression, we identified contextual features associated with 50% increase and doubling of pedestrians, cyclists, and sub-groups of users. We combined insights from monitoring data with longitudinal cohort data (the iConnect study) from residents living near three Connect2 schemes. Residents were surveyed by post at baseline, one-year (n = 1853) and two-year follow-up (n = 1524) to investigate associations between use of the new infrastructure and meeting physical activity guidelines.

Results: The routes were associated with increased use (median increase in cyclists 52%, pedestrians 38%; p < 0.001). Large relative increases were associated with low baseline levels (e.g. odds of doubling cycling were halved for each additional 10,000 annual cyclists at baseline: OR 0.52, 95% CI 0.31, 0.77). Use was associated with meeting physical activity guidelines in both repeat cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses (users vs. non-users after one year, OR 2.07, 95% CI 1.37, 3.21; after two years, OR 2.00, 95% CI 1.37, 2.96).

Conclusions: This examination of use, users, benefit-cost ratios, and physical activity associated with new walking and cycling infrastructure across contexts, using multiple types of data, suggests that building walking and cycling infrastructure could improve population health and reduce inequalities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100968
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Transport and Health
Volume20
Early online date18 Dec 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The work was undertaken by the Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR), a UKCRC Public Health Research Centre of Excellence. Funding from the British Heart Foundation , Cancer Research UK , Economic and Social Research Council , Medical Research Council , the National Institute for Health Research , and the Wellcome Trust , under the auspices of the UK Clinical Research Collaboration, is gratefully acknowledged.

Funding Information:
ALG, DO and JRP were supported by the Medical Research Council [grant number MC_UU_12015/6 ].

Funding Information:
This paper was written on behalf of the iConnect consortium ( http://www.iconnect.ac.uk ; Christian Brand, Fiona Bull, Ashley Cooper, Andy Day, Nanette Mutrie, David Ogilvie, Jane E Powell, John Preston and Harry Rutter), in conjunction with Andy Cope, who is employed by Sustrans. The iConnect consortium was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council [grant reference EP/G00059X/1 ].

Funding Information:
LF is funded and JW is partially funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Global Health Research Group and Network on Diet and Activity. Funding from NIHR is gratefully acknowledged (grant reference 16/137/34 ). The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.

Funding Information:
This paper was written on behalf of the iConnect consortium (http://www.iconnect.ac.uk; Christian Brand, Fiona Bull, Ashley Cooper, Andy Day, Nanette Mutrie, David Ogilvie, Jane E Powell, John Preston and Harry Rutter), in conjunction with Andy Cope, who is employed by Sustrans. The iConnect consortium was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council [grant reference EP/G00059X/1].The work was undertaken by the Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR), a UKCRC Public Health Research Centre of Excellence. Funding from the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Economic and Social Research Council, Medical Research Council, the National Institute for Health Research, and the Wellcome Trust, under the auspices of the UK Clinical Research Collaboration, is gratefully acknowledged.ALG, DO and JRP were supported by the Medical Research Council [grant number MC_UU_12015/6].LF is funded and JW is partially funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Global Health Research Group and Network on Diet and Activity. Funding from NIHR is gratefully acknowledged (grant reference 16/137/34). The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Authors

Copyright:
Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • Context
  • Cycling
  • Evaluation
  • Infrastructure
  • Physical activity
  • Walking

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  • ICONNECT

    Cooper, A. R.

    5/05/085/05/13

    Project: Research

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