Evaluating COVID-19 emergency travel schemes across South Gloucestershire Council

Evaluation Completed July 2022

Research Policy Briefing
Short video

What does the research mean for Local Authorities?

The project sets out to evaluate the impact of emergency travel schemes set up during the COVID-19 pandemic by South Gloucestershire Council on travel behaviour. Emergency travel scheme measures include the installation of new cycle lanes, wider footpaths, low traffic neighbourhoods and school street closures. The evaluation of current schemes will help inform the viability of similar schemes in the future. Recommendations will also be provided to the Council on good practice on delivery, the most effective ways to utilise existing data and how best to collect primary data to monitor future travel schemes.

What does the evaluation research mean for the Public?

In the summer of 2020 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, South Gloucestershire set up 13 emergency travel schemes across the local authority to enhance social distancing and increase the uptake of active travel such as walking and cycling. The schemes included the pedestrianisation of high streets, creation of cycle lanes, low traffic neighbourhoods and the temporary closure of roads outside schools.

How are the public involved in the evaluation?

We set out to engage with residents through the Council’s citizens panel. Planned engagement and co-production activities include presenting and discussing emerging findings with local citizens with opportunities to provide feedback. The feedback will help with the structure and content of the final report including recommendations.

Lay summary of research

Research aims: Following two workshops with local stakeholders from the council, voluntary organisations, and interest groups, a number of desirable outcomes were identified which reflects the anticipated benefits of the schemes. These outcomes have been formulated into the following research questions;

  1. Has the scheme induced a behavioural shift by increasing active forms of travel (walking and cycling)?
  2. Has the scheme delivered an improvement in air quality?
  3. Has the scheme made neighbourhoods a more desirable place to live?
  4. Has the scheme changed people’s sense of pride in their community and made it a more attractive place to live?
  5. Are there any groups who have access issues to the schemes?

Data: To undertake the evaluation we will use existing data in the form of a Travel to Work Survey by TravelWest and the Space to Move consultation survey by the Council. This will be complemented with the collection of new data through a road user survey at the scheme locations and a general telephone survey of the wider South Gloucestershire population.

Methodology: We are using a mixed methods approach. This includes a qualitative analysis to identify themes in written responses contained in the surveys and in consultations with the public. With the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) we will create maps of commuting patterns in South Gloucestershire. Statistical analysis will be used to explore survey data.

Local Authority / Partner(s)

Andy Whitehead, South Gloucestershire Council


PHIRST Fusion Research Team

Professor Frank Kee, Professor Jennifer McKinley, Dr Brad Campbell, Queens University of Belfast, Dr Andrew Passey, Newcastle University, Dr Nick Woodrow, University of Sheffield



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