7 Key Learnings for an effective LCWIP (Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan)

May 12, 2022


A Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP), as set out in the Government’s 2017 Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy, is a strategic approach to identifying cycling and walking improvements required at a local level. LCWIPs enable a long-term approach to developing local cycling and walking networks, and, according to the Government, form a vital part of their strategy to increase the number of trips made on foot or by bicycle.

At City Science, we are strong advocates for making walking and cycling (along with public transport) the preferred means of travel. We have and continue to help a large number of local authorities (including St Helens Borough, Shropshire, Milton Keynes and North East Lincolnshire) develop effective, evidence-based LCWIPs to support their future funding bids to Government.

Drawing on our team’s experience with these similar projects, we have compiled 7 key learnings for anyone developing an LCWIP.

7 learnings for an effective LCWIP

1. Take an innovative and efficient approach to the data analysis process

Ensuring the initial evidence base (Stage 2) is comprehensive, credible and produced in a time-efficient way is a critical foundation for any LCWIP. We at City Science achieve this by swiftly obtaining pre-loaded datasets such as cycle route mesh density, propensity to cycle tool outputs, and automated catchment isochrones using our in-house Cadence 360 tool and our automated LCWIP toolkit. This has the added advantage of allowing us to spend more time exploring the use of more innovative data sources, such as e-scooter hire data (as we did for the Milton Keynes LCWIP) and See.Sense route vibration data (as we did for the North East Lincolnshire LCWIP).

2. Set clear and holistic future outcomes for the active travel network

Engaging stakeholders early in the LCWIP process to develop a consensus on desired outcomes is critical to achieving buy-in. We achieve this by establishing network-wide outcome-based objectives that go beyond transportation, based on local government needs and priorities such as decarbonisation, boosting physical activity, and reducing deprivation. These objectives form a common thread throughout the LCWIP process, including providing a structure to indicators used for the route prioritisation approach (Stage 5).

3. Think like an 8 and an 80-year-old at the same time when planning a future network

Unconscious bias must be recognised and actively mitigated in order to provide a successful LCWIP that is inclusive and meets the requirements of all potential future users, especially those who do not currently walk or cycle. This applies to all stages of the LCWIP process, including the evidence base process, which captures all of the different uses of the network; the site visit, which focuses on key safety barriers for both an 8-year-old and an 80-year-old, and the network development process, which challenges us to develop routes that can be used by all.

4. Experience the cycling and walking network with local experts

There is no substitute for seeing the current state of the network in person, both to gain insights that data alone cannot provide and to ensure that local stakeholders support the LCWIP process. We achieved this at the Shropshire LCWIP by inviting our stakeholders, including local residents, to organised group walkovers and group cycles. We used these meetings to collect local expert opinions on the network and to personally experience some of the network's core difficulties.

5. Listen to and engage with people who don’t cycle as well as those who do

LCWIPs can generate a lot of interest from local groups that already walk or cycle, whose experienced views of using the network on an everyday basis are important. However, it is critical that the engagement process does not lose sight of the ultimate goal of encouraging more people to walk or cycle by first identifying the major hurdles to doing so and what might cause them to consider switching. As we are currently undertaking for the St Helens LCWIP, we achieve this through proactively including groups of people who would not normally engage with LCWIPs, such as by holding focus groups with underrepresented users.

6. Adopt an objective and automated approach to scheme prioritisation

In the current climate of constrained capital scheme funding availability for local authorities, it is important to be realistic that not all schemes identified in the LCWIP will be delivered within the future time horizon. Moreover, qualification for most competitive national scheme funding pots now requires a holistic demonstration of the wider potential benefits of schemes. This is achieved by applying a robust, objective, and automated approach to scheme appraisal that takes into consideration the potential benefits of schemes using a variety of measures across the objectives specified, while also accounting for scheme deliverability challenges.

7. Make it digital to facilitate wider engagement and provide a lasting asset for the community

While LCWIP documents are fascinating for transport planners to create and read, they can be inaccessible, abstract, and time consuming for local residents; this is especially true when it comes to public consultation. For example, as part of our work on the St Helens LCWIP and as demonstrated by our work on the Oxfordshire Infrastructure Strategy, we have developed an online digital tool that will enable local residents during the upcoming public consultation process to easily zoom into and understand the draft network proposals contained within the LCWIP. We believe this kind of approach is vital to build meaningful engagement.

Need support with your LCWIP development?

If you would like to discuss any aspects of your LCWIP with our team, please email info@cityscience.com