UWE research shows over half of shared-path users frustrated by the actions of others

Issue date: 27 August 2014


Over half of Bristol and Bath Railway Path users reported being frustrated by the actions of other pedestrians and cyclists on the day they were surveyed, according to the findings of research presented at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) international conference in London.

52.3% of 600 survey respondents claimed to have been frustrated by other path users on the day that they were surveyed, Hannah Delaney of the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) told the conference. However, 76.6% of frustrated respondents did not express their feelings to other path users.

PhD student Hannah, from UWE Bristol's Centre for Transport and Society, said, “Government guidelines for shared-use paths are based on research that focuses on the observable conflicts that take place and thus the consensus is that conflict between users is rare. However, this PhD research shows that when shared path relations are examined in more detail there is a great deal of non-visible relations and frustration bubbling beneath the surface.

“The survey highlights the difficulty of designing facilities for a mix of mode users. The majority of cyclists would like more information and guidance provided to all users on how to share the path, whereas some pedestrians would prefer to be separated from cyclists. There is also a feeling that some cyclists need to slow down.”

She found that cyclists are more likely to be frustrated by the actions of other path users; similar levels of cyclists and pedestrians get frustrated with cyclists but a higher number of cyclists get frustrated with pedestrians than pedestrians do with cyclists.

However, only a sizeable minority (37.9%) of those surveyed believed their journey would be more enjoyable if cyclists and pedestrians were segregated on the path. This suggests that segregation would not be a panacea for shared-path users' frustrations.

The next stage of Hannah's research involves in-depth interviews about shared path users' own video recordings of their journeys; this will help find out more about the non-visible relations between cyclists and pedestrians and the causes of frustration.

The project is a PhD study by Hannah Delaney of UWE Bristol's Centre for Transport and Society. It is supervised by Dr Steve Melia and Professor Graham Parkhurst with collaboration from the national sustainable mobility NGO Sustrans.

Hannah's presentation An insight into cyclist and pedestrian interactions on shared use pathsis taking place on Thursday 28 August at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) Annual International Conference in London, being held between August 27 – 29. For more information on the conference visit the Royal Geographical Society website.

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