After the cycle highway is developed, it is interesting to know to what extent the cycle infrastructure meets the requirements of the users, where potential improvements are needed and whether the plans work out as they should. With the insights into the quality of the infrastructure and experiences of the users, policy makers are able to plan the improvements of cycle highway.
From a policy perspective the most important way for framing the success of a cycle highway is to measure the impact of the cycle highway development in an objective way in terms of kilometres cycled (volume x distance), where actual travel times / delay can be added. The level of service (mostly regarded as travel times in traffic models) of the cycle highway can be used as a variable in multimodal traffic forecast models.
Next to the quantitative / objective perspective, the subjective experience of users is valuable information for cities. Next to travel time, subjective safety and capacity are important factors for people to decide to take the bicycle in daily travel patterns. There are several ways to ask users to share their experiences:
- Ask users using a survey (online or at cycle path).
- Get insights by a qualitative research such as interview, workshop or focus group.
- Use a tool which allow users to share their experiences, such as a complaint management tool or a tool with GPS to mark locations.
To evaluate the effectiveness of a cycle highway, it is important to measure the objective usage as well as the subjective experience of cyclists using the cycle track. In order to draw conclusions on the change the cycle highway brought about, a proper baseline as well as a result measurement has to be conducted. Several examples are available and have been developed to measure both the objective and subjective cycling experience.
One of the tools developed within the CHIPS project is the cycle highway maturity assessment tool, which can be used to assess a cycle highway. Also the intercept surveys conducted in the Belfast (UK) context as well as Noord-Brabant (NL) and Flemish-Brabant (BE) give valuable insights.
An important conclusion from the CHIPS project is that there are many different stakeholders related to the Cycle Highway development, with all their different information requirements. An important element to the cycle highway impact results is a user-friendly evaluation dashboard where all stakeholders can obtain valuable information. Some stakeholders benefit from global insights in the impact where others demand more detailed information insights. The consequence from this observation is a broad range of tables, figures, GIS maps showing the actual cycling behaviour. Due to the international context standards had to be developed from several data formats. It is not in the context of the CHIPS project to standardize cycling related data but CHIPS accelerated the discussion in the Netherlands, which resulted in a Dutch standard for count as well as GPS data. With these standards the data can be transformed into cycling behavioural information which ultimately can be translated into policy relevant decisions making information.