Although the reasons for regions and metropolitan areas to invest in cycle highway development differ, the climate for substantial investment in high quality cycling infrastructure has improved over the last decade. The arguments for investment such as the positive environmental impact, improving economical accessibility,health of residents, liveability and social well-being in the region need no further ado. Yet, the high investments in cycle highways as comfortable, high quality cycling infrastructure increasingly require better quantitative support in terms of social cost and benefits. To better substantiate the impact of cycle highway development a monitor and evaluation strategy is required.
Three main reasons to monitor and evaluate:
- to justify investments in cycle highways;
- to get insights into the quality of the infrastructure and experiences of the users. After the development of the cycle highway, it is important to know whether the cycle infrastructure meets the requirements of the users, where potential improvements are needed and whether the plans work out as they should;
- to use the monitoring data to learn from cycling behaviour. Especially interesing for road authorities and public bodies.
Taking the Life Cycle Highway into account, cycle highway planning requires a different level of (potential) cycling information than the eventual evaluation from cyclists using the cycle highway after being developed. Within the CHIPS-project monitoring and evaluation is divided into the ex-ante evaluation in the planning phase, monitoring of the impact during implementation of investments and the ex-post evaluation of the number of cyclists and changes in travel behaviour and activity patterns.
In the appraisal (ex-ante) phase a forecast is developed about the impact of cycle highway development. Several tools have been explored to create an impact analysis. Within that process, it is common understanding that not all regions are on the same page with regard to awareness, ambition and practical issues as data availability. The objective in the CHIPS-project was to create an interactive cycle highway monitoring and impact analyses scheme.
During the monitoring and (ex-post) evaluation phases, the strength was the already existing state-of-the-art knowledge about the translation GPS and count data into cycle policy relevant insights. One of the biggest challenges was to create a(n international) common ground to work with concerning data structure(s). The strategy therefore was to use all available cycling data in the regions (counts, GPS, surveys) and transform this into a dashboard, where regions with less data could also start making use off it directly and increase gradually.