I would love right now to take a PhD candidate under my supervision, to unravel this knot being made, by consultancies lining up to feed off of bicycling. To quote my planner friend Roberto, they all "smell blood in the water". I'm not saying their work isn't good, but it is methodologically fraught.
Consider the bicycle heat map, by Montgomery Planning in the US. Laudable as it is, on my fronts, it is a hopelessly crude instrument, based on assumptions factored into a points system. Is there a train station nearby? If so, add some points, because we assume people ride to the station. How many points? Well, that depends on the planners' assumptions.
This kind of fudge work, usually making wild deductions from census data, is going on everywhere, exacerbated by the very aspect of cycling that makes its so powerful: cycling is fleeting. We ride around the corner, chain up, walk, hitch a ride, find our bike, ride across town, put our bike on the train to come home, ride two blocks… how on earth can census data reflect something so untamable as bicycle use?
My experience as a researcher, is that fields that are redolent with aggravations like these, are fertile ground for PhD research. So, if you're eligible for a scholarship (an Australian Postgraduate Award, for example), and would like commit 3 years of your life to such a pursuit, drop me a line and I'll look over your application. If living for a few years in Newcastle appeals, I would be happy to supervise your candidature.