Understanding Walking and Cycling
Understanding Walking & Cycling is an EPSRC funded research project, a collaboration between Lancaster University, the University of Leeds and Oxford Brookes University.
It is widely recognised that an increase in walking and cycling for short journeys in urban areas could significantly reduce traffic congestion, improve the quality of the urban environment, promote improved personal health, and contribute to a reduction in carbon emissions. This is demonstrated by a wide range of policy initiatives by national and local governments, by health authorities and a variety of non-governmental organizations. Recent reviews of research on travel behaviour have emphasised that the ways in which travel decisions are made remains poorly understood, especially in the context of complex and contingent household travel arrangements. This research seeks to fill this research gap through an in-depth analysis of household decision making with respect to short journeys in urban areas.
The research starts with a number of assumptions
- travel on foot or by bicycle is often complex and needs as much (if not more) planning as travel by car
- many short trips in urban areas will be relatively spontaneous and thus subject to decision-making frameworks that differ from more regular journeys
- many short trips are dependent on others
- decision making about travel mode and route choice is dependent on a complex interaction of social, economic, cultural, environmental and psychological variables
- walking and cycling are very different modes of travel even though they are frequently linked together in travel policies
Using these assumptions as a starting point the research has two key aims:
- to develop better understanding of the complex ways in which households and individuals make everyday travel decisions about short trips in urban areas;
- to develop a 'toolkit' that helps planners, policy makers and others concerned with promoting more sustainable travel practices in urban areas to target policies and interventions more effectively.
These aims will be explored through a series of specific research questions. These objectives are important because a modal shift from cars to walking and cycling could significantly reduce congestion, pollution and carbon emissions in towns and improve human health, and because if transport policies do not adequately understand the complexity of micro-scale travel decisions both local and national policies may be ineffective or have unintended consequences. The research will adopt a mixed methodology, but with the main emphasis on in-depth qualitative research, and will examine individual, family and household decision making in four different neighbourhoods.
Data collection will include the following elements:
- a questionnaire survey of residents in four neighbourhoods to provide an overview of travel behaviour and select participants for in-depth study
- a quantitative assessment of the accessibility and permeability of the urban environment in each locality
- in-depth household interviews
- the collection of audio travel diaries
- detailed ethnographic study of the household decision-making process
These data will all be fully analysed using a range of quantitative and qualitative techniques and the integrated results will be used to develop a 'toolkit' designed to help planners and policy makers develop transport policies that relate more closely to the everyday travel behaviour of individuals, and which therefore may be more successful at promoting walking and cycling. Throughout the research the project will engage with a range of stakeholders and potential users, and in the final part will engage potential users with the development of outputs. In addition to the toolkit, results from the research will be disseminated at academic and practitioner conferences and through papers in both academic and policy journals.
Name: Sheila Constantine
Position: Project Administrator
Tel: 01524 510 294
Shibu Raman, ‘MCA’ presentation at UWAC team meeting, Leeds, 17 September 2009.
Kate Viner, ‘DfT appraisal and evaluation of cycling and walking interventions’ presentation at UWAC Advisory Board meeting, Leeds, 18 September 2009.
Ann Jopson : technical note/reference manual : analysis of walking data to date.
Al Chisholm: UWAC assessment of the built environment and other contextual factors. UWAC team meeting: 14-15 September 2010
Tim Jones : Q Methodology – TJ presentation. UWAC team meeting: 14-15 September 2010
Tim Jones: How we might link qualitative data with spaces within our case study environs (presentation referred to by TJ at team meeting: ESRC Research Methods Festival, Graham Hughes, University of Surrey). UWAC team meeting: 14-15 September 2010.
Ann Jopson: PP Presentation: UWAC walking update 14.9.10, Team meeting 14-15 September, 2010
As part of this project we are establishing an advisory group consisting of people closely involved with walking and cycling in a variety of different capacities to assist us with our research. The Advisory Group currently has the following members:
Cat Ainsworth, Mark Leyland, Ed Dursley
Smarter Choices, Worcester City Council
Research and Evaluation Manager, Play England, NGO
Director, Research and Monitoring Unit, SUSTRANS
Head of Business and Consultancy Services, Living Streets
Policy Co-ordinator, CTC, the National Cyclists’ Organization
Local Authority Cycling Officer, Leicester City Council
Cycling Project Co-ordinator, Lancaster City Council
Sustainable & Active Travel Evaluation, Department for Transport
It has been brought to our attention that a statement in the final paragraph of the UWAC final report (p19) could be misinterpreted. We are happy to make it clear that we did not intend to imply that the views of existing committed cyclists and pedestrians should be ignored, rather that these should not be the only views that are taken into account when developing policy. Our research clearly shows that if levels of cycling are to be increased significantly in the UK then it is important to also understand fully the fears, concerns and circumstances of non-cyclists.
Summary of Key Findings and Recommendations
Please ensure your printer option for paper size is set at A4 as this document will default to lettersize. Hard copies available on request.
See ‘Conference presentations’ (below) for papers given at UWAC final conferences’
Colin Pooley: ‘Can increased walking and cycling really contribute to the reduction of transport-related carbon emissions?’. Paper presented at RGS annual conference, London, 2nd September 2010.
Tim Jones: 'Understanding Walking and Cycling: A Multi-Method Approach to Investigating Household Decision Making in Relation to Short Journeys in Urban Areas' Paper presented at CSRG, Bolton, 7th September 2009.
Griet Scheldeman and Dave Horton: ‘Understanding Walking and Cycling’ : report on workshop, Towards Carfree Cities Conference, York, 28 June – 1 July 2010.
Dave Horton and Griet Scheldeman: ‘To cycle or not to cycle? Making daily travel choices in urban environments’, presented at Velo-City, May 2009
Colin Pooley, ‘Young people, mobility and the environment: an integrative approach’ Paper presented at conference on Wellbeing and Place, University of Durham, 7th April 2009.
Dave Horton and Griet Scheldeman: ‘Understanding Walking & Cycling : the Qualitative Part’ Paper presented at Environment and Society Research Group, Lancaster University, 29th April 2009.
Tim Jones and Al Chisholm: ‘Understanding Walking and Cycling’, presentation at OISD Breakfast Seminar, Oxford Brookes, April 2009
Tim Jones: ‘Understanding Walking and Cycling: A Multi-Method Approach to Investigating Household Decision Making in Relation to Short Journeys in Urban Areas' presentation at CSRG, Bolton, 7th September 2009.
Tim Jones: ‘Understanding Walking and cycling: interim findings from a multi-method approach to investigate household decision making in relation to short journeys in urban areas’. Paper presented at 12th WCTR conference, Lisbon Portugal, 11-15 July 2010.
Colin Pooley: ‘Understanding walking & cycling – introduction to the session’. Presentation at UWAC final conferences, London 8th September and Lancaster 13th September 2011
Colin Pooley: ‘Summary and Policy Implications’. Presentation at UWAC final conferences, London 8th September and Lancaster 13th September 2011
Colin Pooley: ‘UWAC Overview – final conferences’. Presentation at UWAC final conferences, London 8th September and Lancaster 13th September 2011
Tim Jones : ‘Understanding the Relationship Between Urban Form and Walking and Cycling’. Approach to measuring built environment – analysis and conclusions. Presentation at UWAC final conferences, London 8th September and Lancaster 13th September 2011.
Tim Jones : ‘Mobile Interviews Cycling: the experience of walking and cycling in British urban areas’. Presentation at UWAC final conferences, London 8th September and Lancaster 13th September 2011.
Accompanying Video Vignettes Leaflet.
Tim Jones : ‘Understanding Everyday Walking and Cycling in Cities: Identities, Practices, Experiences and Visions’. Q Methodology with Discourses Presentation at UWAC final conferences, London 8th September and Lancaster 13th September 2011.
EPSRC Understanding Walking & Cycling
Lancaster Environment Centre