Bridge to Nowhere over M8 Glasgow by Thomas Nugent

Photo: 'Bridge to nowhere' by Thomas Nugent/[CC2.0] A 'dead end' bridge over the M8 in Glasgow was completed as part of Sustrans Connect 2 programme and its impacts assessed as part of iConnect. Read about its transformation into the #BridgeToEverywhere on Storify.

A new United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report published on 2 December cites the TSU's iConnect project as an example of how "sound science can play an important role in creating the political will to shape policies".

The report, entitled "Strengthening the Science-Policy Interface: A gap analysis" explores how an intergrated relationship between science and policy can help deliver on the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.

In the foreword UNEP Executive Director Erik Solheim describes the way that iConnect (Impact of COnstructing Non-motorised Networks and Evaluating Changes in Travel) research had an impact on policy:

"Dr Andy Cope, Director of Insight at Sustrans, partnered with the UK Research Councils funded iConnect research consortium to evaluate a UK Big Lottery funded active travel programme. Together they made a very compelling case for legislation and policy supporting walking and cycling in the United Kingdom. This includes promoting the Active Travel Act in Wales, increasing investment by the Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland, supporting a Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy for England, and significantly increasing investment in active travel in Scotland through the Cycling Action Plan for Scotland."

Erik Solheim, United Nations Environment Programme

The five-year iConnect study (2008-2013) measured and evaluated the changes in travel, physical activity and carbon emissions related to Sustrans' Connect 2 programme of active travel interventions. Sustrans' Connect 2 was an ambitious UK-wide project that transformed local travel in more than 80 communities by creating new high quality crossings and bridges to overcome barriers such as busy roads, rivers and railways.

Oxford's TSU was one of 9 UK institutions that formed the iConnect research consortium. Dr Christian Brand (TSU, ECI), supported by former TSU researcher Dr Tim Jones and doctoral students Andre Neves and Lucy Mahoney, led the carbon evaluation and dissemination activities.

"The transport systems we have are defunct economically, environmentally and socially. Promoting active travel is one of the rare policies that has proven to provide multiple benefits in all of those areas, including public health, air quality, noise, climate and - last but not least - the economy."

Dr Christian Brand, TSU and ECI, School of Geography and the Enviroment, University of Oxford