The Research and Monitoring Unit (RMU) at Sustrans have now published their report on the impact of the Places for Everyone programme, based on evaluation undertaken in the 2021-22 period.
Analysing data taken from 30 different projects across the history of the programme, and five case studies evaluated during 2021-22, the findings demonstrate how the Places for Everyone programme is continuing to deliver safer and more accessible walking, wheeling, and cycling opportunities across Scotland.
The five new project case studies featured within the 2021-22 report include path improvements introduced along Lower Granton Road in Edinburgh, as well as an evaluation of the Lochindaal Way, a new traffic-free active travel route connecting two rural Islay communities.
Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the delivery and subsequent monitoring of Places for Everyone projects, the scope and focus of the 2021-22 report was strategically altered to prioritise case study evaluation.
Nonetheless, these results clearly show the value Places for Everyone projects have brought to local communities across the country and how the programme is delivering on Transport Scotland’s Active Travel Outcomes.
To read the Places for Everyone 2021-22 Infrastructure Impact Summary Report, click on the link below:
The Wishawhill Wood path links the suburb of Craigneuk in North Lanarkshire with Wishaw town centre via a high-quality active travel route.
Previously, the only option for walking, wheeling and cycling away from the busy road, and without the use of an inaccessible footbridge over the railway, was a muddy and overgrown path.
Construction on the new route was completed in 2020.
It has since provided a safe and easy way for people of all abilities to travel between Craigneuk and Wishaw, as well as improving access to the local woodland and Wishawhill Wood Pump Track.
The project was led by Green Action Trust (GAT) and part-funded by the Scottish Government through Sustrans Scotland’s Places for Everyone programme. Match funding was provided by North Lanarkshire Council who have also taken on maintenance responsibility for the route.
Sustrans’ Research and Monitoring Unit (RMU) evaluated the impact of the project in 2022 by counting and surveying people using the path, as well as interviewing local people and stakeholders.
What were the findings?
RMU analysis found that the path has contributed to substantially more trips being taken through Wishawhill Wood – particularly by young and older people.
Before the path upgrade, an estimated 16,000 trips were made during 2019 by people passing through or visiting the pump track. After the upgrade, an estimated 41,000 trips were taken during 2022 – about two and a half times as many.
The path is mainly used for recreation and has helped local residents increase their regular physical activity.
In 2022, 40% of survey respondents said they made a journey along the route daily, compared with 15% in 2019.
The path upgrade has also helped people access a much wider range of local services than before.
Many people using the route strongly agreed that it is easily accessible, enhances the area and meets the needs of the community.
85% of respondents said they were walking or cycling because the path was the most convenient route to get to their destination, up from 18% in 2019.
Numbers of people strongly agreeing that the path is well maintained, feels safe and is well lit have also increased, but are still relatively low.
A community asset
Reflecting on the impact upgrading the path has had on the local community, interviewees were positive.
One person told us:
“It’s a great green transport link, in terms of from the centre of Wishaw, right the way down through…it certainly has opened the area up.”
Local resident, Wishaw
Dan Scott, the Managing Director at Socialtrack, a local social enterprise that encourages people to cycle, scoot, and skateboard, explained how the upgraded path had encouraged pump track users to cycle rather than drive.
“Six lads travelled from another part of Wishaw, which was two miles away from the pump track. The first time they came, six lads came in four cars and then six lads came in three cars, and then eventually six lads came themselves on their own bikes.”
Dan Scott, Managing Director, Socialtrack
Communicating the results
By presenting the findings of the study as a StoryMap, which uses a combination of interactive maps, graphs, voice recordings from local people and “before and after” photos, users can simply and interactively learn more about the project.
The webpage details the story of the path, how it was developed, how it connects people and place, and its impact within the local community.
Alan Boyd, Evaluation Officer in Sustrans’ Research and Monitoring Unit, said:
“We are pleased to share our findings which detail the increase in walking, wheeling and cycling as a result of the path upgrade in Wishawhill Wood.”
“The new path has created a safer and more accessible route for people of all abilities travelling between Craigneuk and Wishaw.”
“We have uploaded our analysis onto a StoryMap for those who would like to find out more about the project. The StoryMap is flexible, so users can zoom in and out of the maps, easily skip to whatever research they find most interesting, and listen to local people discuss the changes that they have seen since the path opened.”
Alan Boyd, Evaluation Officer, Sustrans
Mike Batley, Development Officer at Green Action Trust, added:
“The Wishawhill Wood project has been a great opportunity for the Green Action Trust and partners to make a real difference to people’s quality of life through access to greenspace and active travel.”
“Anecdotally the path has clearly had a positive effect, however this new piece of evaluation has put firm data behind its impact, which is very encouraging for future projects.”
“The StoryMap brings the work to life in an easily understood and engaging way, so I’m delighted to see the results in this format.”
Mike Batley, Development Officer, Green Action Trust
The 2020/21 evaluation report published today provides evidence on the key impacts of the Places for Everyone grant fund, and demonstrates the contributions of the programme to the outcomes set out in Transport Scotland’s Active Travel Framework.
The report also highlights how the programme performed during the pandemic and the baseline monitoring currently being undertaken for projects in the design stage.
The Places for Everyone programme is funded by the Scottish Government and administered by Sustrans.
The programme is open to a range of organisations in Scotland – including local authorities and community groups – that enables the creation of active travel infrastructure.
In addition to funding, the programme also provides advice and support to partners on establishing safe, attractive, healthier places in our urban and rural areas.
There are currently around 250 projects in place or in development as part of the Places for Everyone programme.
Impact of the programme
The report aggregated data from projects across the lifespan of the Places for Everyone programme up to and including the 2020/21 funding year. This includes Sustrans Scotland’s previous Community Links and Community Links Plus grant funds.
One of the key findings is that walking, wheeling, and cycling numbers increased after the completion of infrastructure projects.
Results from an analysis of 30 projects showed a 54% average estimated rise in active travel trips after initial delivery.
Further study showed that the increase in active travel was sustained one year after delivery, with 24 projects averaging a 37% increase in trips.
The monitoring also suggests that the programme led to an improvement in the perception of safety among both pedestrians and cyclists.
This was particularly evident among groups who traditionally regard safety as a barrier to active travel, including women, the elderly and disabled people.
Local people’s perceptions of community involvement in planned Places for Everyone projects were equally encouraging.
In Glasgow, a survey of 984 local residents found that 71% felt the Connecting Woodside project would either greatly or slightly improve the sense of community in their area.
Monitoring and evaluation during the pandemic
Results show that Places for Everyone projects were particularly beneficial to communities in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The programme helped mitigate against some of the impacts at local level by providing safe active travel options for key workers and others.
The projects saw increases in walking, wheeling and cycling during a period of unparalleled societal change.
In Edinburgh, for example, the Innocent Railway path project saw a 344% growth in cycling between 2014 and during the pandemic in 2020.
The Places for Everyone programme is committed to enabling more people in Scotland to walk, wheel and cycle for their everyday journeys.
The Research and Monitoring Unit are continuing to monitor a sample of projects currently at design stage, and will update their analysis with projects from 2021/22 and 2022/23.
Planned work includes upgrading active travel routes, improvements to public spaces in our towns and cities, connecting communities and key hubs and addressing local safety issues.
This highlights the variety in the programme’s work, with projects ranging from rural to urban and village to city.
It also evidences Places for Everyone’s contributions to wider development projects such as local masterplans and flood defence schemes.
Nigel Donnell from Sustrans’ Research and Monitoring Unit, said:
“We’re really pleased to be able to share this evaluation report. It highlights that the Places for Everyone programme is helping people throughout Scotland to walk, wheel and cycle for more of their everyday journeys.
We are really proud of everything it has achieved so far, and with around 250 projects in place or in development the fund will continue to play an important role in creating safer, more attractive, healthier, and inclusive communities.
We’d like to thank Transport Scotland for providing the funding to facilitate the Places for Everyone fund, and our delivery partners whose hard work has ensured the success of the programme”.
The full report is available on request, if you would like to find out more contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The publication details the needs of young people when walking, wheeling or cycling and showcases effective approaches to incorporating their perspectives in projects. In doing so it addresses a portion of society which has historically been neglected in urban planning and transport provision.
The importance of independent mobility
In this report, children and young people’s ‘independent mobility’ refers to the freedom that people aged 11 – 16 have to roam public space and reach key destinations without the accompaniment of an adult.
We know this has been declining across the UK for at least the last 50 years, and the consequences for young people’s quality of life are well documented.
However, we still have some way to go towards building a picture of what youth-friendly infrastructure looks like, and understanding the key ingredients for bringing this about.
“Developing independence is an important part of growing up, and yet without opportunities for active travel young people are often dependent on parents or carers getting them from A to B by car.
“This participatory research project shows that young people are very good at showing us what could be better in the places they live, but all too often their views are assumed or ignored.
“While most research on this topic has so far focused on travel to school, this work covers any and all the places young people in our case studies wanted to access.
“The results set a framework for how we can make positive interventions in infrastructure to get more young people walking, wheeling and cycling.”
Study author, Dr Jenny Wood
What did the research set out to explore?
What do young people and their parents/carers need from active travel infrastructure to be healthy, happy and safe when travelling independently on their everyday journeys?
Current issues: What are the things which deter young people from travelling independently and parents/carers from allowing it?
Priority areas for action: What changes would have the biggest positive impact on young people’s confidence and motivation to walk, wheel and cycle?
How would new and improved active travel infrastructure change the travel experience?
What did we do? The research approach
The research took a ‘participatory’ approach, meaning it placed young people and parents/carers’ lived experiences at the heart of answering the above questions.
The researchers worked with groups of ‘young consultants’ and parents/carers in four Scottish communities which spanned different socioeconomic and rural-urban scales. Each community worked to co-produce ‘active travel maps’ of their areas which display and describe the experiences of living in each place.
The results from each location are brought together with evidence from published research to highlight the key changes to the built environment and social factors which would encourage independent active travel.
What did we find?
The findings emphasise that young people’s travel is about far more than simply getting from A to B. Getting out and about depends on the quality and availability of motivating and accessible destinations. For independent active travel these need to be connected by safe and enjoyable routes.
Equally important are the broader cultural factors. These include:
Tackling antisocial behaviour in communities
Building an inclusive cycling culture
Ensuring adequate internet and mobile technology coverage in public space
Encouraging families to become more familiar with active travel opportunities with their children
The report also showcases the detailed place-specific outputs from working with young people and parents/carers in this participatory way at a local level. Differences in terms of urban/rural differentiation, socioeconomic status of area, age and gender are explored alongside the overall picture for the UK and Scotland.
The Glasgow South City Way project is delivering a high-quality active travel corridor from the heart of the South Side through to Glasgow City Centre.
The project is part of Glasgow’s ambition to become a cycle friendly city – linking routes and destinations by “quiet ways” that enable anyone regardless of ability to travel by bike.
As the project developed, two protected junctions (road junctions that separate people travelling on foot, by cycle, and in vehicles) were trialled at a couple of locations along Victoria Road.
They were the first protected junctions ever trialled in Scotland!
What were the outcomes of the trials?
During the trial period Sustrans’ Research and Monitoring Unit (RMU) found a significant increase in cycle traffic.
Between March 2019 and September 2021, the total cycle traffic through the junctions had almost doubled.
Pedestrian traffic changed much less in the same period, increasing slightly at one junction and decreasing at the other.
Video footage from the same period showed that 94% of cyclists followed the segregated cycleway through the protected junctions as intended.
Similar footage revealed that pedestrian behaviour had also changed between the pre and post-intervention monitoring.
At the protected junctions, fewer people were crossing on the diagonal, opting instead to cross each arm of the junction separately. Crossing when the red figure shows had increased suggesting that people felt safe enough to cross when traffic was still flowing through the junction.
How have perceptions of safety changed?
As part of the RMU study, 218 interviews were carried out with people who walk and cycle to find out how the introduction of the junctions had changed safety perceptions.
The responses were conclusive, with all the cyclists and over two thirds of the people walking feeling either safe or very safe when using them.
There were, however, also learnings to be taken.
Some people reported confusion with the crossing signs and the position of signals at the new junction layout.
A few survey responses raised concerns for the experience of vulnerable groups using the protected junctions, including the light controls not having sound for people with sight impairment, and trip hazards due to the path and road being at different heights.
A small number of those interviewed also highlighted cyclists not using bells, not observing red lights and travelling in the wrong direction.
While initial findings from the study are very encouraging, the team noted that further work is required to support the roll out of these protected junctions.
“We are pleased by our initial findings after the introduction of the protected junctions on the Victoria Road section of the South City Way.
Those we spoke to reported an increased sense of safety when using the junctions, and the growth of cycle traffic volume since their installation shows they will be an important tool to encouraging more people to use active travel for everyday journeys.
However, we know that there is a lot more work to be done.
Future monitoring will capture more data on the direction of cyclists travelling along the cycleway, and there will be a focus on the experiences of vulnerable groups using the intervention to ensure that everyone is able to safely walk, wheel and cycle in Glasgow”.
Ben Farrington, RMU Evaluation Officer at Sustrans