CATI Research establishes 'barriers and attitudes' to cycling in the Colchester Cycling Town Program


Colchester has been designated a ‘Cycling Town’ with the aim to get ‘more people cycling more safely, more often’.  To achieve this objective, the Colchester Cycling project team developed an action programme to improve infrastructure, provide cycle training and market cycling. Market research company, Protel Fieldwork, worked with SDG (Steer Davis Gleave) and conducted telephone interviews to establish current behaviour and attitudes towards cycling before and after promotional activities.



The Highwoods cycle route was the first significant infrastructure improvement to support the initiative to get more people cycling in the town.  These improvements were supported by a range of smarter choices and promotional measures to ensure that residents were aware of the developments occurring and were able to make best use of them. 


The Personal Travel Planning (PTP) project was subsequently established to support and encourage the cycling programme by raising awareness of the Highwood cycle route with residents in the area and motivating them to use it.   Leading market research company, Protel Fieldwork, was appointed to support the programme by conducting a telephone survey to:


  • Establish the baseline travel behaviour prior to the PTP intervention; and
  • Effectively plan the PTP project by gaining an understanding of the current attitudes and barriers to cycling in the Highwoods area.



Protel Fieldwork was asked to conduct telephone interviews within a number of specific geographic areas (defined by postcodes) within Colchester on use of cycles; knowledge of cycle paths and cycle initiatives within the area.   Protel developed a reliable database from several database suppliers that was utilised in a two phase telephone survey. Phase 1 interviews were conducted before Colchester Council had conducted the marketing campaign to assess cycling initiatives.   Phase 2 interview were conducted after the marketing campaign had been completed.


It was important that the same profile of interviewee was targeted in phases 1 and 2 and that no interviews were duplicated.  In selecting interviewee in addition to geographic criteria, strict demographic quotas were also set covering age, gender and working status to ensure a good representative sample.



Protel achieved the target samples and quotas for each phase of interviewing within the tight timescales agreed of a two week turnaround for each phase of interviewing from field start to data delivery.   1500 interviews were completed over both phases through a 10 minute telephone survey


The baseline survey enabled the project to produce a set of key findings which included:

  • Danger from traffic was overwhelmingly cited as the main reason that deters people from cycling;
  • 73% of people are confident or very confident riding a bicycle; and
  • 64% of people have a bicycle available for use.



“Protel did an excellent job in completing the telephone interviews.  Achieving a good sample with the pre and post PTP respondents was key to finding out how successful the project was and Protel worked hard at achieving the sample numbers and quotas required.”  Tony Duckenfield, Associate, Steer Davis Gleave