BACKGROUND There are repeated calls to build better cycling paths in Australian cities if the proportion of people cycling is to increase. Yet the full range of transport, health, environmental and economic impacts of new cycling infrastructure and the extent to which observed changes are sustained is not well understood. The City of Sydney is currently building a new bicycle network, which includes a new bicycle path separated from road traffic in the south Sydney area. This protocol paper describes a comprehensive method to evaluate this new cycling infrastructure. METHOD A cohort of residents within two kilometres of the new bicycle path will be surveyed at baseline before a new section of bicycle path is built, and again 12 and 24 months later to assess changes in travel behaviour, sense of community, quality of life and health behaviours. Residents in a comparable area of Sydney that will not get a new separated bike path will act as a comparison group. At baseline a sub-set of residents who volunteer will also take a small GPS device with them for one week to assess travel behaviour. DISCUSSION This research should contribute to the advancement in evaluation and appraisal methods for cycling projects.