The University of Oxford is a major partner in a new multi-institutional study to evaluate the impacts of a project valued at around £150 million and designed to revitalise walking and cycling across the UK.
The iConnect (Impact of COnstructing Non-motorised Networks and Evaluating Changes in Travel) study aims to measure and evaluate the changes in travel, physical activity and carbon emissions related to Sustrans' Connect2 project, which won the public vote in the Big Lottery Fund’s recent People’s £50 Million contest.
Connect2 is an ambitious UK-wide project that will transform local travel in 79 communities by creating new crossings and bridges to overcome barriers such as busy roads, rivers and railways, giving people easier and healthier access to their schools, shops, parks and countryside.
Starting next month, the five-year iConnect study involves a broad evaluation of the whole programme coupled with detailed investigations at five specific sites. Researchers hope to determine if the new routes have got more people switching from using their cars to walking or cycling, helping them to get more physically active and reducing their carbon footprint. Dr Christian Brand, from the University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute, who is co-PI at Oxford, comments: "This is a unique opportunity for an interdisciplinary group of researchers to determine whether major investments in physical infrastructure encourage changes in travel behaviour that will also be beneficial in terms of the environment and public health."
The iConnect study which has received £2.3 million Government funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), also involves the universities of Southampton, Bristol, East Anglia, Loughborough, Oxford University’s Dept. of Health, Strathclyde and West of England (UWE) and the MRC Epidemiology Unit in Cambridge. Researchers from these institutions will work together to investigate the impacts of the Connect2 project across the fields of transport, carbon emissions, public health and energy consumption.
iConnect - an integrated approach to measuring and evaluating the physical activity, travel and carbon impacts of interventions to improve the connectivity of infrastructure for walking and cycling in the UK - Poster presented at the Annual Conference and Meeting of the HEPA Europe, in Glasgow 8-10 September 2008