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Nature connection and cycling

Cairns, Mel; Jain, Juliet

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Both cycling and nature connectedness offer benefits to human and planetary wellbeing. A mixed methods MSc research project has explored the ways in which nature in general, and connectedness in particular, interacts with cycling practices and experiences in Bristol, UK.

An online survey of 417 adults captured responses to the Nature Connection Index scale and questions about cycling behaviour. In-depth qualitative interviews (n = 7) explored experiences and perceptions about cycling and nature with cyclists and non-cyclists.

Cycling duration was not associated with nature connectedness. Recreational cyclists (n = 228) had significantly higher nature connectedness (p < .01) than respondents who did not cycle recreationally (n = 181). Some possible mechanisms for this are suggested by the literature; the qualitative analysis supported the occurrence of ‘pathway’ processes, which increase nature connectedness, during leisure cycling ‘in nature’. This may be conditional on internal or spatial factors. A bidirectional effect, with nature connectedness influencing leisure cycling behaviour, is also feasible. The qualitative accounts also highlighted ways in which cycling in nature increases enjoyment of cycle rides, raises awareness of nature spaces and facilitates access to them as well as identifying challenges associated with cycling in urban nature spaces. Limitations include the convenience sampling approach and the timing of the research during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nature is part of the cycling experience for some cyclists during some journeys, and cycling can facilitate access to, and connection with, nature in various ways. Implications include the potential benefits of raising awareness of the positive nature experiences that cycling can facilitate and the consideration of nature connectedness pathways in the design of cycling infrastructure.

Presentation Conference Type Poster
Conference Name Nature Connections 2024
Start Date Jun 24, 2024
Deposit Date Jul 3, 2024
Publicly Available Date Jul 4, 2024
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