Assessment of the type of cycling infrastructure required to attract new cyclists (Research report 449)

  • Published: NZ Transport Agency, 2011
  • Authors: S. Kingham, K. Taylor and G. Koorey
  • Date Added: 05 Mar 2013
  • Last Update: 05 Mar 2013
  • Format: pdf


The research objectives were to:

  • Carry out a comprehensive international literature review on the barriers and motivations associated with cycling, as well as the design of cycling infrastructure and its impact on the use of cycles;

  • Identify the biggest barrier for new cyclists when considering cycling as a transport mode;

  • Assess the demand for different types of cycle route provision, such as quiet streets, cycle lanes and off-road pathways;

  • Identify the impact of cycling infrastructure on the likely uptake of utility cycling by current non-utility cyclists; and,

  • Provide recommendations for local and central government on the type of cycle route design required to encourage a growth in cyclist numbers.


An international literature review was undertaken to identify the characteristics of people who currently cycle, their motivations and barriers regarding utilitarian cycling, and the types of cycling facilities available. Surveys were then carried out to gain a broad understanding of some of the barriers to utilitarian cycling, and ‘potential cyclists’ were recruited into focus groups to undertake further research. In the focus groups, all motivations and barriers were discussed to gain an understanding of the key issues for potential cyclists, and to identify the most significant issues. The focus groups also evaluated a range of cycling facilities.

Key Findings:

  • This research, which was conducted from July 2008 to January 2010, investigated what type of cycling infrastructure (i.e. physical street facilities) would encourage ‘new cyclists’ to use cycling as their mode of transport for daily activities in New Zealand.

  • The research showed that safety was the most significant issue for potential cyclists, particularly in relation to vehicle driver behaviour and traffic volume. Other significant issues included having facilities at the destination for showering and changing, enjoyment, and the perception that car drivers are not courteous.

  • The solutions that were most likely to effect a significant change in cyclist numbers related to the nature and consistency of infrastructure, and education for motor vehicle drivers and cyclists on how to best and safely use it.

  • The preferred cycling facility was a comprehensive, consistent network of cycle-only paths with separation from motor vehicles, and with dedicated intersection facilities such as hook turns and cycle signals. However, all of the cycling facility options that were presented rated much higher than the ‘no provision’ options.

  • A person’s perception of safety can contribute significantly to their fear of cycling; therefore it is important to address ‘perceived’ safety as much as, or more than, ‘actual’ safety. On the other hand, ‘actual’ safety also needs to be addressed, and a balance between choosing infrastructure that is appealing to people interested in cycling, and ‘actual’ safety, needs to be reached.


Cycling infrastructure, perception of safety.


Illustrates the importance of considering a cyclist’s perception of safety during cycling infrastructure design.