What data you need to collect

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braid hills horse ridersWe have developed the questionnaire to make it easy for you to collect data in a standard format and be able to analyse the results with confidence. The questionnaire is available online, being ‘hosted’ by Survey Monkey and administered centrally by the Paths for All Partnership.

The data you need to collect can be broadly divided into four areas:

  • Who is using the network
  • How and why they use it
  • How using the network affects them
  • How many people use the network

    The first three of these are covered by the questionnaire itself, and the fourth requires you to count people over an extended period, so is probably best done with an automatic counter!

    3.1 Who is using the network


    The information you need to collect includes:

    • Age (usually grouped into a standard set of ranges)
    • Gender
    • Home postcode (relates to a group of houses rather than an individual dwelling)
    • Where they are staying locally if they are a visitor
    • How long they are staying
    • How much they estimate they are spending whilst in the area
    • Whether the presence of the paths influenced their decision to visit

    As well as providing basic demographics, this information shows the proportion of visitors using the network and how much money they spend. You can then demonstrate the economic benefit directly attributed to the path network. This will tell you the ‘at least’ amount of economic activity generated by the network - other studies may have taken other factors into account to estimate economic impact (such as the additional money that local people spend in the area) but they are generally more tenuous and can be difficult to disentangle.

    The SIRC study found that Peebles had an unusually large (27%) proportion of users who were over 65. They also found that 15% of users in Peebles were visitors who had come to use the paths.

    3.2 How and why they use it


    sec-3-11The information about uses of the network include:

    • Type of activity (e.g. cycling, dog walking, running etc)
    • Purpose of the 'journey' (e.g. shopping, commuting, recreation fitness etc)
    • Frequency of Use

    The information from these results will help you to work out the range of benefits brought by the network and how the paths contribute to, for example, reducing traffic congestion.

    The SIRC study found that 4.7% of users interviewed were on their way to or from work.

    3.3 How it affects them

     

     

    The types of information you need to collect include:

     
    • levels of physical activity
    • influence of the network on physical activity and mental health
    • experiences whilst using the network

    The responses will give you insight into the health benefits associated with the path network and the general levels of satisfaction with it. When this is combined with the demographic data you have also collected, it could help you to work out what contribution the path network is making to the health of the local community.

    The SIRC study found that 72.9% of respondents used the path network at least once a week and that overall 38.8% had significantly increased their physical activity as a result of having the path network available.

    3.4 How many people use the network

     

    This question is probably best answered by taking measurements - either by someone actually counting people over a period of time, or by using automatic people counters.

    However, if you do not have years' worth of data showing how many people have used the path network this shouldn't stop you from finding out about the benefits. Use local knowledge to work out which parts of the network attract the most people, and when might be the best time to meet them. This will ensure that you collect data in the most effective way and get the most representative sample to interview.

    You can find more information about using people counters from the Scottish Outdoor Access website.

    The reason this data is necessary is that it will help you determine the size of the benefits from a path network - you can use these figures to make calculations from the other data you collect to estimate the total impacts.

    The automatic visitor counter figures for Abriachan in 2006 showed that there were almost 27,000 visits to the path network. On the basis of the calculated expenditure per visitor in different seasons, the SIRC study concluded that the economic benefit to the local economy in 2006 was at least £190,000.

    About the toolkit


    This toolkit has been designed and written by Walking-the-Talk based on research and initial development by the Sport Industry Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University.

    © 2014 Paths for All - Registered Scottish Charity No: SC025535, Company Limited by Guarantee No: 168554 inc. 19 Sept 1996 at Companies House, Edinburgh