Fiona Raje, University of Birmingham
I recently went on a study tour to Ireland where I heard about and saw various initiatives and developments aimed at more sustainable futures. One of the site visits was to the new Grangegorman campus of Dublin Institute of Technology which has been developed as a space for education, health and community. It opens up an area of the north west corner of Dublin city which had previously been walled-off from public view, housing a psychiatric hospital, and is designed with cycling and walking, as well as public transport, being primary modes of access (e.g. there a hundreds of bike racks and only 14 parking spaces on the campus). Equally important to the way the site has been developed is the permeability that has been built in for local residents, enabling access both to and through the campus. The location of a school and health facilities for the wider community on the site underlines that such accessibility is positively encouraged through infrastructure design.
With the campus only just welcoming its first students, it is not yet possible to determine how the new cycling and walking infrastructure may impact on the local community, students, staff and visitors. However, the findings of recent research suggest that net benefits from such infrastructure provision should start to be realized in a couple of years. Goodman et al (2014) found that new, high-quality, traffic-free cycling and walking routes in local communities encouraged more people to make trips on foot or by bike, particularly amongst those who lived within 1km of the new infrastructure. They noted that it was at 2-year follow up that these changes became evident.
This is some of the first evidence to demonstrate that a general assumption many of us have made, that good quality walking and cycling infrastructure will result in increased use of these modes, is indeed true. It will be interesting to return to Grangegorman in 2016 to see how the modal share has evolved.
At University of Birmingham, as we work on an iBUILD case study of the value of walking and cycling infrastructure in urban areas, we will be exploring examples of changes in infrastructure and research findings such as those mentioned above to help unpick the various dimensions of value attained from such provision. The overall objective of the case study is to suggest ways in which infrastructure for these two modes may be provided in new ways (such as through social enterprise) that increase: value generation, in general, arising from such projects; value capture for investors, in particular, and reduce delivery costs, leading to improved value/cost ratios and a resulting greater willingness to undertake such schemes. Within this context, the work looks at local walking and cycling, taking account of transport and travel’s direct relationship to facilitating connectivity to wider areas from local surroundings. This work aligns closely with the iBUILD agenda on maximising a wide range of values from walking and cycling infrastructure.
Further information about the planning at Grangegorman can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EW_ThDM1eJE
Goodman, A., Sahlqvist, S. and Ogilvie, D. (2014) ‘New walking and cycling routes and increased physical activity: one- and 2-year findings from the UK iConnect study’, American Journal of Public Health, 104(9), pp. e38-e46