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Canalside Improvement, UK

The UoM researchers used direct behaviour observations and intercept surveys to capture the impact of urban canal improvements.

Canalside Improvement - Bridgewater Canal

The research project was led by UoM’s Division of Psychology & Mental Health that was shortlisted for an international research award. The work represents a rare ‘before and after’ evaluation of the introduction of canal improvements in an urban area of Greater Manchester (UK).

The physical intervention entailed of canal side improvements, including improved towpath surfaces, substantial vegetation management and the removal of infrastructure that might impede walking and cycling, such as bollards.

The three-year study revealed large standardised effects for the amount of people observed using the canal towpath. This increased activity included walking, running and taking notice of the improved immediate environment.

The ‘robustness’ of the monitoring was enhanced with collection of data in two matched comparison canal locations, where no simultaneous interventions were carried out. This helped show that the intervention impact was not likely caused by wider trends in changes in these behaviours.

The work provided objective evidence of the positive impact of investment, as well as suggestions of how to build on these initial changes in behaviour and environmental experience. In turn helping reinforce policy and investment decision making.

Economic and Social Research Council
Peel Group Logo



Psychology & Environmental Science, Data Science, Statistics, Geography, Planning.


Peel Holdings, Salford City Council, Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Manchester Climate Agency.

Key Outputs

Research papers, Multiple dissemination materials.

Project Value
£ 0

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