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Sustrans Scotland: Wheels in motion - Evaluating leisure cyclists


Sustrans is a UK-wide charity making it easier for people to walk and cycle.

As custodian of the National Cycle Network (NCN), Sustrans is improving the specificity and scope of evaluative data for its users. In particular, Sustrans is interested in further engaging businesses surrounding cycle routes to highlight and quantify the value of leisure and active travel cyclists.

Challenge: Understanding the impact and value of leisure cyclists

To capture critical data and insights to support marketing and strategic activities, Sustrans commissioned STR to undertake a survey among cyclists on the dramatic Caledonia Way—a 234-mile route traversing Scotland from the coastal town of Campbeltown in Argyll to Inverness in the Highlands.

Given the length of the route and challenges of interviewing cyclists, it was important to identify key sampling locations and to plan an approach that would be most effective in engaging with the target audience. As a result, desk research and thorough client liaison was required to define and agree sampling locations and timings for an intercept survey among cyclists.

Furthermore, it was understood that local businesses had significant knowledge and insights on cyclists using the route. Therefore, there was a need to augment the methodology to capture business views and to synthesize findings of the research from consumers and businesses.

Solution: User survey and business workshops for consumer and business intelligence

STR developed a two-stage research methodology to capture insights from both cyclists and local businesses along the route.

  • Stage 1 was an on-route intercept survey, where leisure cyclists were interviewed by our team of professional interviewers. The questions asked covered the key themes of cyclists’ expenditure in the area, their satisfaction with the route, and the route’s impact on their health and wellbeing, which would allow Sustrans to use the data to evidence the impact of the route. We were able to offer flexibility in data collection locations throughout the fieldwork process, working closely with the client to ensure a representative spread of locations was used while maximizing the number of survey respondents.
  • Collaborating with an experienced tourism consultant, Stage 2 was a series of business workshops with local businesses in key towns along the route. These workshops focused on how businesses were currently being impacted by the cycle route and how Sustrans could better engage with them.

Results: Providing evidence to understand impact

STR delivered an attractive and succinct report that provides evidence of the cycle route’s impact on the local economy as well as on the health and wellbeing of its users.

The insights allowed Sustrans to strengthen the case for investment in leisure and tourism activity. Moreover, the data was split by the three local authority regions the route passes, to allow specific local data to be used in communications by the regions’ Destination Management Organizations. The report also included recommendations on how to better collaborate with local businesses, and insights and recommendations were articulated to factor both the views of cyclists and businesses.

Client Testimonial

“STR proved to be a valuable partner which enabled the delivery of high quality and informative research among users of The Caledonia Way. Their responsive and adaptable approach helped to optimize data collection. In addition, we were impressed by the quality of their research outputs and their ability to clearly articulate key findings and actions from the study.”

Niall Shannon

Network Engagement Manager

Sustrans Scotland

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