6. Performance monitoring

6.1 Why monitor?

Performance monitoring is a process for testing whether an initiative is achieving or has achieved its objectives. Performance monitoring results could be used to:

  • Identify the need for on-going improvements to recently delivered infrastructure
  • Improve the design and delivery of future active travel initiatives.

Resources available for monitoring tasks - including design of the monitoring program, data collection and reporting - will always be constrained. Monitoring is therefore likely to be confined to high cost initiatives, initiatives that are expected to have a significant impact on a specific policy objective (such as reducing crash risk at a blackspot) or initiatives that are intended to test new design philosophies or concepts.

6.2 Measures of success

Data collection to determine the level of success or changes attributable to an active travel infrastructure upgrade or new facility would include the following:

  • Facility usage (such as trips/day, trips/hour) disaggregated by:
    • New trips (that is, previous latent demand)
    • Mode shift (from private vehicle or public transport to active travel)
    • Mode shift (from private vehicle to supporting public transport trips)
  • Safety improvements (that is, fewer crashes)
  • Personal security (that is, lower incidence of crime)
  • Active travel user satisfaction (that is, percentage of users happy with the facility)
  • Condition of the facilities provided (that is, level of feedback from active travel users)
  • Health benefits (as measured by an increase in the number of active travel trips in an area or a network) may be difficult to discern at the level of individual initiatives.

6.3 Data collection

The appropriate monitoring methods should be considered at an early stage of the planning process. Suitable approaches are dependent upon the objective being monitored and could include:

  • Pedestrian and cyclists count surveys (observation surveys)
  • Intercept surveys, including face to face interviews on site or self-administered mail-back or email-back questionnaires
  • Origin-destination surveys (such as Bluetooth, GPS and following surveys)
  • Facility condition surveys.

6.4 Timing of performance monitoring

Performance monitoring should be undertaken before and after an intervention is implemented. The same method, location and time period should be replicated where possible for the ‘before’ and ‘after initiative' scenarios.

Care needs to be taken when monitoring the performance of a new facility or delivery of a new policy as there will always be a 'ramp up' period before up-take reaches expected demand. A ramp-up period should always be incorporated in demand forecasts to reflect the time for the project to affect user trip making behaviour. For relatively small initiatives, it would be sensible to commence monitoring processes once expected demand volumes have reached the expected level or after sufficient time has elapsed for users to adjust to the new infrastructure. For larger initiatives, the ramp-up period could be quite long, in which case periodic monitoring initiatives would be appropriate. The length of time between project opening and commencement of monitoring will be initiatitive-specific. For example, a small facility (such as a pedestrian refuge island) might be surveyed one month after opening, whereas it would be better to wait a year to assess the performance of a new pedestrian bridge.

The time of day, day of the week and time of year at which surveys are taken should be the same for the before and after scenarios, with care being taken to avoid special event days (unless of course the subject upgrade is intended to service special events). These survey design parameters will be determined by each initiative’s key origins, destinations and surrounding land uses. For example:

  • A commuter shared pedestrian and cycle path would likely be surveyed during the morning and evening commuter peak periods
  • A monitoring program for an active travel initiative near a school would need to take account of the school’s daily start and finish times and term start and end dates
  • A recreational pathway through a park would probably be used more during the weekend.

Having comparable weather conditions in the ‘before’ and ‘after’ periods is also beneficial. The longer the survey period the more reliable the data, but this will be influenced by the time and budget available for performance monitoring.