Background: Cycling infrastructure in car-orientated societies is largely unevaluated. This mixed method study aimed to evaluate initial impacts of new cycling infrastructure by investigating changes in community perceptions, expectations and interaction with a new cycleway. Method: In a multiphase mixed method design, qualitative interviews with local residents and retailers were conducted before and after the construction of a new cycleway, in 2013 and 2014 respectively. Six months later, intercept surveys with 783 cyclists using the cycleway and 207 pedestrians in the vicinity were also conducted to determine how the cycleway was being used and received by the community. Results: Residents were in general supportive of the cycleway perceiving it to have a positive impact on their quality of life and on the neighbourhood. Retailers initially believed the cycleway would hinder productivity and impact parking, a view that dissipated after construction of the cycleway. Observation and dialogue with participants revealed some confusion as motorists, pedestrian and cyclist learnt to adapt and interact with the new infrastructure. Survey findings revealed 63% of users were local, despite initial community perceptions that the local community would not use it. The cycleway was being used mainly for commuting (59%) consistent with neighbourhood perceptions, however as cyclists learnt to interact with the cycleway other trip purposes were emerging. Barriers to use appeared to be due to physical barriers (e.g., bike ownership), and perceptions about the path, rather than attitudinal barriers. Conclusion: New cycling infrastructure provides opportunity for community growth and wellbeing. Community engagement, information and road education is needed to reduce barriers to allow car-orientated cultures to learn to interact with new cycling infrastructure.
- Bicycle infrastructure
- Mixed methods design