New research shows early success for the Civic Cycle Loop

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Initial research into the recently installed Civic Cycle Loop indicates the new paths have increased cycling activity in the city and made cyclists feel safer when using these networks.

You may know that the Civic Cycle Loop is a 3 kilometre loop in the Canberra CBD. The loop comprises a series of cycle specific paths separate from motor traffic, and a shareway on Bunda Street. It aims to contribute to increased cycle trips as part of the broader transport strategy Transport for Canberra 2012-2031.

This study, by Andrew Kennedy, was completed as a research component of his Master degree in urban planning.

Although Andrew recently moved to Brisbane, he says his own experience using Canberra’s cycling networks prompted the research.

“Where I lived in Canberra I lived close to town so usually cycled or walked to work, I found it handy,” says Andrew.

“At the same time I have an interest in public policy, and having worked as a public servant I wanted to look at whether the policy was effective.”

The study evaluated the early indications of success of the loop in achieving its goals of increasing cycling through improving safety and encouraging new cyclists on its route.

The study aimed to answer the following questions:

  • Has the Civic Cycle Loop contributed to cycling participation?
  • If so, is the contribution associated with improved perception of safety along the route?

While Andrew hoped the results would be in favour of the work the ACT government has been doing to encourage cycling, he didn’t expect such a strong response.

“It’s encouraged less frequent cyclists to use the loop more,” he says.

“It’s the sort of thing that advocates like Pedal Power ACT are saying that we need to have, and further confirms evidence of this, which is useful. It highlights that this type of infrastructure is useful for increasing cycling, and supports the evidence that it does what it set out to do.”

166 cyclists, including approximately 80 responses from Pedal Power email recipients, responded to an online survey seeking reported use before and since installation of the loop and responses to questions about safety and convenience. The survey included an open-ended question inviting comments on safety and convenience.

Key findings:

The study found that the early signs of the Civic Cycle Loop’s success are promising, with respondents indicating increased use and improved perceived safety. The identification of confusion on the part of many users highlights that the decision to cycle is complex.

There appears to be an increased rate of cycling on the route, particularly among relatively infrequent cyclists.

  • 48% of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that they choose to cycle on the route more frequently since the construction of the loop.
  • 88% of those who reported an increased patronage of the route used the route less than once a month or never prior to the loop’s construction.

There appears to be an improved perception of safety for these users

  • 73% of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that the loop made Rudd and Marcus Clarke streets safer for them as a cyclist.
  • Of those who reported increased patronage, 56% agreed and 35% strongly agreed that the Civic Cycle Loop made Marcus Clarke and Rudd streets safer for them as a cyclist.

Open-ended responses indicate there is some confusion about the loop, and concern about a lack of continuity.

  • Intersections can be challenging, with reports of confusion surrounding car and bicycle interaction.
  • The Marcus Clarke Street bus stop area is a frequently noted impediment.

See the full research report here.

A more detailed analysis of Andrew’s research will be provided in an upcoming issue of Pedal Power ACT’s “Canberra Cyclist” magazine.

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