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Canal towpath use – TfWM (cati/capi)

Date Posted:

Transport for West Midlands logo for canal study

Cycling and walking are being promoted as a healthy way to make short journeys in the Black Country, where a £4.9 million scheme is providing 29.8km of dedicated cycle paths on streets, highways and canal towpaths.

Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) is managing the scheme – called ‘Managing Short Trips’ – in partnership with four local councils and the Canal & River Trust, with funding from the Black Country Consortium/Local Enterprise Partnership.

Before creating a targeted marketing campaign to persuade more people to use the new routes, TfWM wanted to find out more about their views: what would attract them to cycling, what would deter them, and what barriers were in the way.

This would set a baseline: follow up surveys could then assess the impact of the new routes / success of marketing campaigns.

The Challenge

The target group was people living near the canal network where improvements were to take place. These are the people that the ‘Managing Short Trips’ initiative hoped would swap some of their daily journeys in cars and buses, for walking and cycling.

A good cross-section of the population had to be questioned and people who did not use the towpaths or cycle paths also had to be included. There were also quotas for different age demographics.

The Solution

TfWM commissioned Protel Fieldwork to undertake a survey in 2018 to find out:

  • Residents’ propensity to cycle
  • Attitudes to cycling
  • Actual and perceived barriers to cycling
  • Motivation to take up cycling

Protel Fieldwork recommended a telephone survey, rather than an on-street survey, because it would maximise opportunities for residents to take part. If someone was out during the day it would be quick and simple to try again in the evening or on a Saturday morning.

The target audience was clearly identified by address.

Protel kept track of the quotas for different age demographics and when it became apparent that one particular group was under-represented, it swiftly arranged top-up street interviews, via the Computer Aided Personal Interviewing (CAPI) methodology, successfully targeting this demographic.

The Result

Protel Fieldwork completed a survey of almost 1,000 people on time and in budget, giving TfWM valuable insights into what it should include in a targeted marketing campaign.

One advantage of the telephone survey was the fact that Protel Fieldwork used Snap software for the Computer Assisted Telephone Interviews (CATI), so TfWM received a completed Snap file promptly at the end of the project and there were no additional set up costs.

Sara Harte, of TfWM, said: “We were very happy with Protel’s suggestion about how the survey was conducted because it led to the work being completed quickly and in a cost effective manner. High quality data was available almost immediately.”

The data has been passed to the walking and cycling team and will be used to work up a marketing campaign, following the completion of the canal improvements. The effectiveness of the improvements in encouraging walking and cycling will be measured in a follow-up survey.