The Island is leading the way with innovative research it is hoped will inspire travel behaviour change across the UK.
New, novice and lapsed cycling visitors were encouraged to cycle while holidaying on the Island in 2017 and this was followed up by their local council when they returned home with initiatives promoting cycling.
Alongside this, three Bicycle Island surveys have tracked the participants travel behaviour over time, to find out if their Island cycling experience has inspired them to cycle more at home. The initiative was undertaken by the Isle of Wight Council in partnership with Visit Isle of Wight.
“Through this unique research project, we have discovered that the Isle of Wight is a destination of choice for regular cyclists who are very enthusiastic about the round the Island route and the overall facilities – making it a great holiday experience for cycle touring,” said Councillor Ian Ward, Cabinet member for infrastructure and public transport.
“What is even more inspiring is that their Island cycling experience really does have a lasting and beneficial effect when they return home.”
Over the course of nine months, a total of 283 participants took part in the survey programme.
A total of 14 local authority/National Park partners were selected based on a review of their existing sustainable transport initiatives and the number of their residents visiting the Isle of Wight (Visit Isle of Wight data from ferry passengers): Essex County Council, Portsmouth City Council, Southampton City Council/ Hampshire County Council, New Forest National Park Authority, Bristol City Council (Travelwest), West Sussex County Council, East Sussex County Council, Brighton & Hove City Council, Surrey County Council, Essex County Council, Merseytravel , West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Transport for Greater Manchester and Transport for West Midlands.
“Cycling is important to Essex. It is more than just a pastime for a dedicated few, or a cheap mode of transport – it is a solution to the problem of congestion in our towns and poor health in our society. We want to see more people cycling in Essex, more safely, more often and the Bicycle Island Project helps us establish cycling as an enjoyable participation activity for health gain and cultivate a mind-set that sees cycling as a normal, enjoyable and everyday activity for the majority of short journeys,” said Kris Radley, cycling strategy leader, Essex County Council.
Zoe Stroud, visitor travel projects manager at Visit Isle of Wight, said: “The Isle of Wight has always been a popular destination for cyclists and it is encouraging to see new people trying cycling while on holiday. For visitors to then carry on cycling once they get home is brilliant and great to know we are making a difference to their lives.”
The surveys ask questions about any changes to their cycling behaviour, in terms of cycling frequency and attitude to cycling, following their visit to the Island. In return they were offered a series of prizes donated by Visit Isle of Wight and local businesses, including The Clifton Hotel in Shanklin, Wight Cycle Hire and Red Squirrel Bikes.
The exercise is being repeated this year.
The scheme forms part of a wider programme of transport interventions being delivered by the Isle of Wight Council with partners over the next two years, using £1.35 million of funding won competitively from the Department for Transport (DfT). The funding builds upon previous DfT investment on the Island.