Research@Reading Real Estate

Dr Philip Black, Urban Design Researcher at the School of Real Estate & Planning is working with Dr Emma Street on the CycleBoom project, and has recently secured a small grant to carry out some connected research very much focused on local user engagement. Here he explains a little more about what he will be looking at.

Cycling in Reading: An Urban Design Perspective

This 1-year Project, funded through Reading Borough Council's Cycling_in_reading_smallSustainable Travel Challenge Fund, aims to identify what contributes to the provision of quality urban environments for cyclists. Currently in the UK there is limited focus on urban design within cycling strategies (including Reading's proposed cycle strategy), this project aims to place Reading at the forefront of this emerging field, adding a new dimension to the drive towards improved cycle infrastructure and increased levels of cycling in the town. The objective is to ultimately assist in the creation of successful places that integrate the bicycle, encourage participation in cycling, and improve the quality of cyclist's experiences of the built environment.

The Project will design, develop and pilot an urban design audit, conducting a review of physical and environmental features alongside an urban design assessment, utilising relevant perceptual qualities identified as applicable to cycling, at 4 key sites across Reading. By employing an urban design quality rating/ranking system, it is possible to categorise mapped cycle routes based on journey quality with regards to cyclists' interaction with the built environment. These findings will then be 'tested' and 'discussed' in-depth with local cyclists through the medium of community focus groups, incorporating cyclists opinions and experiences. The design audit will uniquely link physical features (such as cycle infrastructure), urban design qualities (such as streetscapes), and cyclists' individual reactions to, and perceptions of, these features. The project will provide a tangible contribution that focuses on uncovering key variables, both objective and perceived, that directly and indirectly influence bicycling quality and behavior. Findings will inform the development and publication of a design guide for Reading, offering up a fresh narrative on the underdeveloped links between transportation and urban design, and highlighting strategic arenas in which to focus attention for the promotion of cycling participation and its associated health and wellbeing benefits.

Further Information

The Project runs from June 2014 until April 2015. For further information please contact:

Dr Philip Black,, 0118 3786037



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