Background: Encouraging cycling is an important way to increase physical activity in the community. The Cycling Connecting Communities (CCC) Project is a community-based cycling promotion program that included a range of community engagement and social marketing activities, such as organised bike rides and events, cycling skills courses, the distribution of cycling maps of the area and coverage in the local press. The aim of the study was to assess the effectiveness of this program designed to encourage the use of newly completed off-road cycle paths through south west Sydney, Australia.
Methods: The evaluation used a quasi-experimental design that consisted of a pre- and post-intervention telephone survey (24 months apart) of a cohort of residents (n = 909) in the intervention area (n = 520) (Fairfield and Liverpool) and a socio-demographically similar comparison area (n = 389) (Bankstown). Both areas had similar bicycle infrastructure. Four bicycle counters were placed on the main bicycle paths in the intervention and comparison areas to monitor daily bicycle use before and after the intervention.
Results: The telephone survey results showed significantly greater awareness of the Cycling Connecting Communities project (13.5% vs 8.0%, p < 0.05) in the intervention area, with significantly higher rates of cycling in the intervention area (32.9%) compared with the comparison area (9.7%) amongst those aware of the project. There was a significant increase in use of bicycle paths in the intervention area (28.3% versus 16.2%, p < 0.05). These findings were confirmed by the bike count data.
Conclusion: Despite relatively modest resources, the Cycling Connecting Communities project achieved significant increases in bicycle path use, and increased cycling in some sub-groups. However, this community based intervention with limited funding had very limited reach into the community and did not increase population cycling levels.