UWE + Sustrans collaborate on iConnect UK travel project

Issue date: 21 April 2010

Cyclists Residents of Cardiff and the Vale are being invited to take part in a nationwide study to evaluate the benefits of a travel initiative from sustainability charity,Sustrans which is designed to revitalise walking and cycling across the UK.

Sustrans won a national TV vote in to bring money from the Big Lottery Fund to communities across the UK through its Connect2 project. The project invests in walking and cycling networks, improves existing routes, helps overcome barriers and creates new crossings over busy roads, railways and rivers – thus making walking and cycling safer, easier and more accessible. The 140 metre Pont-y-Werin, or People's Bridge, across the River Ely is traffic-free and will allow pedestrians and cyclists to cross between Penarth and the International Sports Village at Cardiff Bay, with a 20 metre opening section to allow river traffic to pass. The bridge is due to open on 8 June 2010, completing a six-and-a-half mile circular route around the city.

Now a group of independent researchers from eight UK universities, are undertaking a major five-year study called iConnect to assess the impact of the Sustrans' Connect2 programme. Cardiff has been selected as one of only five case study projects where more detailed research will take place.

The iConnect project is led by the University of Southampton and the Cardiff Connect2 Case study is being carried out by academics from the University of the West of England, Bristol (UWE).

Survey questionnaires will be mailed to residents in the Vale and Cardiff around the People's Bridge in April and May asking about local travel, recreation and exercise. The research group from UWE is keen to encourage as many residents to take part as possible offering the chance to win a £25 gift voucher if they return their completed and returned questionnaires and consent forms.

Dr Jane Powell, from UWE's Institute of Sustainability Health and Environment (ISHE), who is leading Cardiff Connect2 case study, comments,“This is a unique opportunity for an interdisciplinary group of researchers to measure and evaluate whether major investments in physical infrastructure encourage changes in travel behaviour that will also be beneficial in terms of the environment and public health.”

Councillors Jeffrey James, Vale Council and Delme Bowen, Chair of the Connect2 Pont-y-Werin Steering Group both agreed:

“Connect2 Cardiff is an exciting project that stands to connect communities in the area supported by both Vale and Cardiff Councils. We are delighted that Cardiff and The Vale residents are being asked to take part in research of national importance that will put our vibrant city on the map. It is important that everybody's views are included in the survey so that the impact of the bridge can be evaluated properly. I would urge everybody to look out for the questionnaire through the post in April and to take part in the survey.”

Andy Cope, Director of Research and Monitoring at Sustrans said, “Sustrans' Connect2 project aims to radically change how people travel within their communities and iConnect will help us really see the impact these new routes will have on people's everyday travel behaviour. The project represents both an exciting challenge and an opportunity to highlight the impact that investment in cycling and walking infrastructure can have through a UK-wide programme.”


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