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A natural experimental study of new walking and cycling infrastructure across the United Kingdom: The Connect2 programme

Le Gouais, Anna; Panter, Jenna; Cope, Andy; Powell, Jane; Bird, Emma; Woodcock, James; Ogilvie, David; Foley, Louise


Anna Le Gouais

Jenna Panter

Andy Cope

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Jane Powell
Professor in Public Health Economics

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Emma Bird
Senior Lecturer in Public Health

James Woodcock

David Ogilvie

Louise Foley


Introduction: High quality evaluations of new walking and cycling routes are scarce and understanding contextual mechanisms influencing outcomes is limited. Using different types of data we investigate how context is associated with change in use of new and upgraded walking and cycling infrastructure, and the association between infrastructure use and overall physical activity.
Methods: We conducted repeat cross-sectional pre-post analysis of monitoring data from a variety of walking and cycling routes built in 84 locations across the United Kingdom (the Connect2 programme, 2009-2013), using four-day user counts (pre n=189,250; post n=319,531), next-to-pass surveys of route users (pre n=15,641; post n=20,253), and automatic counter data that generated estimates of total annual users. Using multivariable logistic regression, we identified contextual features associated with 50% increase and doubling of pedestrians, cyclists, and sub-groups of users. We combined insights from monitoring data with longitudinal cohort data (the iConnect study) from residents living near three Connect2 schemes. Residents were surveyed by post at baseline, one-year (n=1853) and two-year follow-up (n=1524) to investigate associations between use of the new infrastructure and meeting physical activity guidelines.
Results: The routes were associated with increased use (median increase in cyclists 52%, pedestrians 38%; p less than 0.001). Large relative increases were associated with low baseline levels (e.g. odds of doubling cycling were halved for each additional 10,000 annual cyclists at baseline: OR 0.52, 95% CI 0.31, 0.77). Use was associated with meeting physical activity guidelines in both repeat cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses (users vs. non-users after one year, OR 2.07, 95% CI 1.37, 3.21; after two years, OR 2.00, 95% CI 1.37, 2.96).
Conclusions: This examination of use, users, benefit-cost ratios, and physical activity associated with new walking and cycling infrastructure across contexts, using multiple types of data, suggests that building walking and cycling infrastructure could improve population health and reduce inequalities.


Le Gouais, A., Panter, J., Cope, A., Powell, J., Bird, E., Woodcock, J., …Foley, L. (2021). A natural experimental study of new walking and cycling infrastructure across the United Kingdom: The Connect2 programme. Journal of Transport and Health, 20, Article 100968.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 19, 2020
Online Publication Date Dec 18, 2020
Publication Date Mar 1, 2021
Deposit Date Dec 1, 2020
Publicly Available Date Jun 19, 2022
Journal Journal of Transport and Health
Print ISSN 2214-1405
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 20
Article Number 100968
Keywords physical activity, walking, cycling, infrastructure, context, evaluation
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