July 2024

Local Transport Research

This page contains relevant transport research papers (other than Spokes research) which investigate issues in Edinburgh and/or the Lothians (and some Scotland).  For other research, local and not, see our research topics page.

2401 Does cycle commuting reduce the risk of mental ill-health? Edinburgh University study, press release: “Researchers found a 15 per cent reduction in prescriptions for depression or anxiety amongst cycle commuters in the five years after 2011 compared with non-cyclists.” The study is a major advance in methodology, linking census and medical records, and covering 378,253 people aged 16-74 from the 2011 Scottish census with NHS prescription records for the following five years. This methodology reduces the uncertainties (e.g. confounding variables, self-reporting) in earlier studies, so the results are very robust.

2310 Driver and Cyclist Behaviour at Junctions: Who is Really Running Red Lights? Napier University MSc dissertation by Christopher Russell. Research costs support was provided by Cycling Scotland, in memory of founding trustees Sandy Scotland and Brian Curtis.

The design of a junction may have a significant impact on who runs red lights. A new insight is that at junctions with ASLs and advance cycle lights, cyclist behaviour appears to be significantly more law-abiding, whilst motorist behaviour is significantly less law-abiding compared to junctions without those facilities. Overall, at the junctions studied (a mix of the above types), no statistically significant difference was found between cyclists and other road users when comparing all illegal behaviour, though the very rare ‘serious’ offences were more likely to be by cyclists. The dissertation contains a wealth of referenced background material and was awarded a distinction – though, being a dissertation, it has not been peer-reviewed.

1901 Cyclist Exposure to Ultra-Fine Particles (UFPs) on 3 alternative commuter routes in Edinburgh  Edinburgh University MSc research project by Javier Luengo-Oroz & Stefan Reis.   Choosing your route from A to B can make a big difference to your UFP pollution exposure – offroad paths best, quiet roads &/or cycle lanes next best, bus lanes worst.   Advance-stop boxes at traffic lights are very beneficial.  However, Edinburgh pollution is less than in most comparable cities.  Spokes notes:  (a)  Lothian Buses plan to meet Euro 5 emission standards by 2020 so bus lanes may become less of a pollution problem.   (b) In choosing your route, UFP pollution is only one factor to consider – it’s a balance with safety, convenience and any other positive or negative factors that you care about.

1804 Inspired by the ‘Alex’ cartoon…  physical activity academic experts from Edinburgh, and a Spokes campaigner, have published an editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine [link, NB, paywall] outlining the trends which result in children being driven to school instead of travelling actively as in the past. The researchers have also sent the editorial to all four UK transport ministers [pdf] reiterating the long-standing demand of the Association of Directors of Public Health for 10% of transport budgets to be allocated to active travel.

1705 Cyclist Exposure to Hand-Arm Vibration… [link] by Napier University’s Dr Mark Taylor and others.  An instrumented bike was used to assess the effect of setts and of different types of road surfaces on hand-arm vibration.  Setts were found to be the worst problem, and in certain cases cyclists will exceed the European Standard safety levels set for workers exposed to vibration.   Spokes put Dr Taylor in touch with Prof Chris Oliver, a former consultant trauma orthopaedic hand surgeon (and Spokes member), resulting in a collaboration between the two academics and publicity summarised by Edinburgh University Research Explorer [8.10.17].   Note – For Spokes documents on setts see our ATAP page [e.g. para 1710].

1606 Cycling and Health   Our public meeting included documents and presentations on physical activity and health from Chris Oliver, Professor of Physical Activity for Health at Edinburgh University; and on air pollution and health from Emilia Hanna, air pollution campaigner at FOE Scotland.   These and other documents can be found at the above link to the report of the meeting.

1409 Cycle lanes: their effect on driver passing distances in urban areas [link] Napier University, Kathryn Stewart & Adrian McHale in the journal Transport.  Finds that, in Edinburgh 30mph roads, driver passing distance is affected most by absolute road width, the presence of nearside parking and the presence of an opposing vehicle at the time of an overtaking manoeuvre – the effect of cycle lanes was less.  Includes an extensive summary of previous related research, which is mixed but suggests that cycle lanes encourage cycling but in urban areas do not much affect average passing distances.  Comment – an important issue very rarely covered, including here, is whether the number of close passes is reduced by cycle lanes – nearly all studies concentrate on average passing distances.

1403 Analysis of Cycle Law Scotland Case Data [pdf] Analysis of 151 cycling injury cases handled by Cycle Law Scotland in the 2 years to August 2013.   It is important to note that since these are cases taken to Cycle Law they are not representative of all cyclist casualties – this is fully discussed in the report, including which results in the report may or may not have wider applicability.  There is now also a Cycle Law web page summarising the research.

1303 Engagement Strategy for Considerate Cycling in Edinburgh: turning Negative Perceptions into Positive Actions  [pdf 1.0MB].  Research project by Edinburgh University MSc students, in collaboration with Edinburgh City Council and others.  As presented in the Scottish Parliament, through Alison Johnstone MSP, March 2013.

1211 Does the Edinburgh Quality Bike Corridor enable people to cycle more safely and more often? MSc dissertation by Elena Hodgekins, Heriot-Watt University, Urban and Regional Planning.   QBiC is found to encourage greater cycle use amongst people who both do and don’t already cycle there [sections 6.7, 7.2] although the design could be considerably improved, thus probably encouraging more cycle use [7.3].   This conclusion ties up with our own initial findings.    Dissertation title and abstract [docx 20k] Dissertation [docx 6.2MB] Map [pdf 4.8MB].

1204 Prevalence Of Use Of Visibility Aids By Edinburgh Cyclists And Their Association With Self-Reported Accidents / Near Accidents BSc Applied Sport Science dissertation, Ed Uni Finds no association between visibility aids and bike accidents; but an association between listening to music and bike accidents. A few comments by Spokes.

1106 Health Impacts of Canals [pdf 968k] – Investigating (and attempting to monetise) the health benefits of the Forth and Clyde and Union Canals.  Report by MVA consultancy for British Waterways Scotland and The Waterways Trust.

0908 Assessment of the Sustainability of Edinburgh’s Transport Strategy Charlene Curran, MSc dissertation, Heriot-Watt University [pdf 822k]

0809 Encouraging Bicycle Use in Residential Neighbourhoods: Insights from Edinburgh Dr Tim Ryley, Loughborough University [pdf 539k].  Data from 4 residential neighbourhoods moving out from the centre along west Edinburgh transport corridor.  Suggests that bike storage problems for flat/tenement dwellers are a significant deterrent to city centre bike use.    Here is a link to his 2005 PhD on which the paper is based.

0605 The Effect of Coloured Surfacing on Drivers’ Compliance with Cycle and Bus Lanes John McKeown, Napier University [pdf 393k].  Suggests that coloured surfacing greatly reduces motorist intrusion into bus or cycle lanes.  Other research suggests similar, plus beneficial effects on casualities and on cyclist confidence [we haven’t looked for the exact references – please pass them on if known!]