RESEARCH on Tyneside has, for the first time in a UK urban environment, tracked routes chosen by cyclists on commuter and every day rides.
The study has found that almost half of commuter cyclists do not cycle on designated routes. The reasons behind why cyclists select certain routes will be investigated later in the study.
Godwin Yeboah, a postgraduate researcher in engineering and environment at Northumbria University, tracked 79 cyclists using portable GPS devices.
The riders were also given self-report questionnaires, creating detailed travel diaries of each participant.
The results reveal that 57% of the cyclists sampled prefer cycling on the cycle network, while 34% cycled outside the network and 9% cycled near the network but not along it.
Male cyclists in the study were almost four times more likely to use cycle crossings than females. This suggests that female cyclists may tend to avoid cycle crossings perhaps due to safety concerns.
The data also shows that more people travel to work by bike in North Tyneside and Newcastle than other parts of the region.
The research concludes that councils in the North East should work together to create an integrated cycling network with infrastructure based on the popular cycling routes identified by the study.
Godwin said: “With almost half of cyclists’ bike trips being outside the designated cycle network, it is imperative that policy initiatives are aimed towards investing in cycling research and infrastructure, such as cycle lanes, parking and crossings.
“Limited budgets mean that it is important for the councils to invest in improving cycling infrastructure and routes strategically.
“My data, and other analytical assessments of the existing infrastructure, will provide policy planners and engineers with accurate information of popular cycling routes and help them to understand the behaviour of cyclists.”
Godwin has been invited to attend the House of Commons on Monday to exhibit his research poster on cycling in urban environments as a finalist in the SET for Britain competition.
Godwin’s PhD supervisor at Northumbria University, Dr Seraphim Alvanides, said: “This is a contentious topic with serious planning implications, if we want to increase sustainable transport, such as regular cycling, in our cities.“