An award-winning active travel study carried out by the University of Bristol and Oxfordshire County Council has now been published.
The qualitative study was carried out between May and October 2022 to learn more about active travel priorities – travel that involves some physical activity – and what might help people adopt more active habits. The study focused on cycling and walking for commuters and older people aged 65 to 75 living independently in Bicester and Witney.
The study received the “outstanding contribution to public health or social care research” award from the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHCR) at the 2022 Thames Valley Health Research Awards last year.
Councillor Andrew Gant, Cabinet Member for Highways Management, said: “We know that road, pavement and cycle path improvements are essential to promoting active travel, but people face many other barriers to cycling and walking.
“This study provided an important opportunity for local people to explain in detail what would make a difference to them and it will help Oxfordshire County Council to improve the support we offer and the network changes we provide.”
The study looked at groups of people who had been identified as having the best opportunity to take up more active travel. Bicester and Witney were chosen because most key destinations in people’s daily travel are a walkable, or wheelable distance.
In Bicester, these changes include improving walking, wheeling and cycling connectivity from the west of the town to Bicester centre, with an off-road shared-use footway and cycleway, better signage and reduced speed limits.
In Witney, recent works have aimed to improve walking and cycling between west and east Witney, going through the town centre. The works include wider crossings, better signage and reduced speed limits.
Other initiatives include ‘bike library’ cycle borrow schemes, free bike repairs and training, and walking and cycling groups. Further improvements in both towns will be pursued as funding becomes available.
The research study, ‘Active Travel in Oxfordshire – a qualitative study of active travel amongst commuters and older adults living in market towns’ was funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Public Health Intervention Responsive Studies Teams (PHIRST) scheme.