This project aims to inform local authority transport planning policies that support equitable and sustainable active travel in rural settings. This will include:
- Identifying opportunities and friction points towards achieving healthy, sustainable and equitable rural travel
- Evaluating sustainable and active travel schemes in two contrasting rural communities
National and local sustainable travel policies aim to address both climate change and health through promoting active travel on foot or by bike. These policies also promote the use of public transport, which is often combined with walking or cycling, and is less polluting than car travel.
Some of these policies, however, do not consider the challenges of living in rural areas and provide little guidance or evidence about how to promote sustainable and active travel for people living in villages and small towns. In rural areas, schools, shops and other services may be too far away to reach by cycling or walking, and public transport may be limited. Promoting active travel as a solution can make inequalities worse if not everyone can benefit. Other solutions, such as on-demand bus services, electric cars and e-bike schemes, may also have unexpected negative impacts.
Local authorities in the South West and North East of England are putting in place schemes to improve access to walking, cycling and public transport for rural residents. Researchers on this project will work with these local authorities and communities to evaluate these travel schemes. They will look at what is working for residents what makes these policies easier or more difficult to put in place.
Design and methods
The work of this project will be divided into two main work packages:
- Map national and local policies that target walking and cycling – including in combination with public transport, and identify what makes these policies easier or more difficult to put in place on the ground
- Evaluate selected sustainable travel schemes – this will involve working with those involved in these schemes to understand communities’ experiences, what works for them and who might be left behind. To do this we will use a range of approaches, including interviews, and maps and photos created by participants
While developing the project plan, we collaborated with members of the public, and have a public collaborator on the project. We plan to build on these connections and reach out to develop further public and community partners in the communities specifically targeted by the chosen schemes.
Project outputs will be co-designed with community input. This will include a travelling exhibition that displays residents’ experiences and concerns with existing schemes and for future action.